Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, has been found to help lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation in the skin and joints, and promote healthy fetal development. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has revealed that it has a positive effect on bedsores, too.

A common problem in critically ill patients, bedsores result from constant pressure on the skin and underlying tissue due to prolonged sitting or lying down. Painful and prone to infection, the pressure ulcers need to be healed, said Prof. Pierre Singer of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine. With Ph.D. candidate Miriam Theilla at the Rabin Medical Center, he designed a randomized experiment to determine the impact of dietary fish oil supplements on the bedsores of critically ill patients.

After a three week period of adding eight grams of fish oil to their patients’ daily diet, the researchers found not only a significant lessening of pain and discomfort from bedsores - a 20 to 25 per cent improvement, according to the Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing - but also a more efficient immune system and a reduction to inflammation throughout the body. "We saw a modification in the expression of a group of molecules associated with directing leukocytes, or white blood cells, in the direction of the wound, which could explain the improved healing,” explained Prof. Singer. In addition, the researchers noted a significant decrease in the amount of C-reactive protein in the blood, which is associated with inflammation and linked to viral and bacterial infections, rheumatic diseases, tissue injury, and necrosis.

The results were reported in the British Journal of Nutrition and the American Journal of Critical Care.

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