Fish oil

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Fish oil for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

Fish oil, as the name implies, comes from fish. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is also found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Fish oils have been touted for their positive impact on heart health because research on omega-3 fatty acids shows it reduces the risk of abnormal heart risks, slows the rate of hardening of the ateries. Fish, as opposed to supplements, carry a risk of being contaminated with mercury.

A 2002 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey found that 12% of the 30,000 people polled have tried fish oil or omega fatty acids.

Sources of fish oil

Fish oil can be obtained by taking supplements or by eating fish, including:

  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sturgeon
  • Mullet
  • Bluefish
  • Anchovy
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Trout
  • Menhaden

Fish oil for migraines – how does it work

According to the American Heart Association the ingredients of fish oil help reduce inflammation, reduces blood clotting, lowers blood pressure and steadies the heart rhythm. These actions, particularly the reduction of inflammation or swelling, may be helpful in reducing the head pain and other migraine symptoms of migraine attacks because it may reduce migraine head inflammation.

Studies on Fish oil and Migraines

Some research suggests that since Fish Oil prevents constriction of blood vessel, it can prevent the actions in the brain that lead to migraine attacks.


A 2002 study of 27 adolescents who took fish oil found that they had fewer migraines, shorter headaches and less severe migraine headaches.

Formulations of Fish Oil supplements available

  • Capsules
  • Soft gels
  • Liquids
  • Tablets
  • Flavored wafers
  • Pudding packs
  • Effervescent packets that fizz in water
  • Gummies

Side effects and other precautions

High doses of Fish Oil can cause:

  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • A possible increase in blood sugar in those with diabetes
  • Nosebleed
  • Blood in the urine
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fishy aftertaste
  • Vitamin E deficiency

Overdose of fish oil may increase the risk of bleeding stroke. There have been rare reports of mild elevations in liver function tests, skin rashes, restlessness and the sensation of ants crawling on the skin and mania in patients with bipolar disorder or major depression.

Who should not take Fish oil

Children and pregnant women should avoid eating fish that may contain high levels of mercury, including shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Fish oil or its ingredients may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, NSAIDs, birth control pills, high blood pressure medicine or cholesterol drugs. Fish oil may also interact with other supplements including Gingko biloba, garlic and saw palmetto. You should discuss with your doctor all of the medications and natural remedies you take.

People who are allergic to fish or seafood, may also be allergic to Fish Oil.

People with weakened immune systems should speak with their doctors before taking Fish Oil, because it may further lower the immune system response.

People with implanted defibrillators or familial adenomatous polyposis shouldn’t take Fish Oil.



As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.