A team of scientists from the Medical University of Vienna found that taking fish oil capsules containing omega-3 fatty acids cut the risk of suffering a serious psychotic episode in high-risk groups by more than a quarter.
The study looked at 81 individuals who were deemed to be at very high risk of experiencing psychotic disorders such as delusions, hallucinations and confused thoughts. These were then split into three categories according to the severity of their condition.
The risk of progressing to a state of serious psychosis was cut by 27.5% in those that had taken fish oil supplements compared with those who did not.
It is thought that the omega-3 fatty acids that are contained in supplements such as cod liver oil affect the structure of cell membranes in the brain and strengthen connections between nerve cells, improving the chances of halting the onset of a psychotic episode.
The scientists, led by Paul Amminger, from the Medical University of Vienna, wrote in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry: “The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent or at least delay the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotics for the prodromal (early symptomatic) phase.”
Copyright Press Association 2010
Archives of General Psychiatry