Bedsores are all too common among critically ill, bed-ridden patients.
The sores result from constant pressure on the skin and underlying tissue.
Painful and prone to infection, pressure ulcers need to be healed … both to ease suffering and to prevent complications.
A previous study showed that omega-3 fish oil supplements raised oxygen levels in the body tissues of critically ill patients.
Bedsores develop in response to reduced blood flow– causing a lack of oxygen – and by skin wetness.
Inspired by the results of the prior study, Professor Pierre Singer, Ph.D., and his team conducted a randomized clinical trial to see whether fish oil could help heal bed sores.
Fighting sores and inflammation
The researchers conducted a randomized study in 40 critically ill patients.
Half the patients were given standard hospital diets, and the rest had eight grams (8,000mg) of fish oil added to their food.
After three weeks, the researchers detected two measurable benefits in the omega-3 fish oil group:
A more efficient immune system and reduced inflammation throughout the body.
A 20 to 25 percent drop in pain and discomfort from bedsores, as measured using the standard Pressure Ulcer Scale for Healing.
“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 Professor Singer.
In addition, 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 (tissue death).
Natural pain management?
Next, Prof. Singer and his fellow researchers plan to explore the use of fish oil as a method of natural pain management.
They intend to measure the intensity of pain experienced by post-surgical patients who have undergone either knee or hip replacements, and compared that to the amount of fish oil the patient has received.
Theilla M, Schwartz B, Cohen J, Shapiro H, Anbar R, Singer P. Impact of a nutritional formula enriched in fish oil and micronutrients on pressure ulcers in critical care patients. Am J Crit Care. 2012 Jul;21(4):e102-9. doi: 10.4037/ajcc2012187.
Theilla M, Schwartz B, Zimra Y, Shapiro H, Anbar R, Rabizadeh E, Cohen J, Singer P. Enteral n-3 fatty acids and micronutrients enhance percentage of positive neutrophil and lymphocyte adhesion molecules: a potential mediator of pressure ulcer healing in critically ill patients. Br J Nutr. 2012 Apr;107(7):1056-61. Epub 2011 Nov 1.
Theilla M, Singer P, Cohen J, Dekeyser F. A diet enriched in eicosapentanoic acid, gamma-linolenic acid and antioxidants in the prevention of new pressure ulcer formation in critically ill patients with acute lung injury: A randomized, prospective, controlled study. Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;26(6):752-7. Epub 2007 Oct 22.