Science Update

New study demonstrates omega-3 fatty acids improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury

The treatment of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be quite challenging. Medical treatments for post-concussion symptoms have consisted mainly of opiates for headaches anti-depressants anti-nauseas anti-vertigo stimulants and other medications to increase neurotransmitter levels.                                                   

The traumatic forces involved in concussion and in those with post-concussion syndrome have been shown to result in a decrease of glucose use by the brain and changes in cerebral blood flow.  

Previous studies have failed to identify an effective treatment in controlling aspects of neuroprotection neuroinflammation and neuroregeneration. A new study published last month in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that the aggressive intake of omega-3 fatty acids was beneficial to TBI concussion and post-concussion syndrome patients.

The research suggests that early treatment of high dose omega-3 fatty acids can improve outcomes from TBI. The article reviews preclinical research as well as three brain injury case studies which demonstrated the safety and tolerability in patients who sustained life-threatening brain injuries and recovered with the supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids.

The brain needs to be saturated with high doses of omega-3 fatty acids in order for it to heal. If these individuals do not have an optimal supply of EPA and DHA healing will likely be impaired. On the flipside there is no negative impact supporting these patients with optimal nutrition to regain as much function as possible.

Other Nutrient Considerations

Glycerophosphocholine (GPC) is a form of choline that has been shown to protect and repair damaged brain cells. It has been used to prevent damage to brain cells after blood flow and thus oxygen has been cut off to those cells.  GPC also supports the brains ability to recover after traumatic brain injuries and reduce the symptoms associated with concussion and post-concussion syndrome.

In one study twenty-three patients who suffered from concussions and cerebral contusions were given GPC for a three month period. At the end of the study ninety-six percent of the patients mental faculties had improved significantly.

Other brain supportive nutrients to consider are acetyl-l-carnitine inositol and phosphatidylserine fish oil krill oil and MCT oil.


By Michael Jurgelewicz DC DACBN DCBCN CNS