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30 January 2005
Publication: You Magazine – The Mail on Sunday
Anorexia nervosa is a notoriously difficult illness to treat. Australian paediatrician Dr Michael Kohn is currently heading a trial at the Centre for Research into Adolescents’ Health in Westmead, Sydney, giving young anorexic patient daily doses of Omega-3 essential fatty acids called EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid). These fats, particularly DHA, are key components of our brains, but our bodies can’t make them, so they have to be obtained from food. Previous studies of anorexics, using MRI scans, suggested that starving their bodies also means starving their brains of these nutrients. Such depleted levels appear to lead to a long-term change in the structure of the brains of anorexia sufferers, which may impair the way they think. Dr Kohn believes that feeding the brain may help anorexics think rationally again, so that they can recover.
Pharmalogical doses of Omega-3 fats have been shown to help in other mental health problems, including depression and schizophrenia. Comfortingly, they have no risks or side affects and help all-round health. Patients in the study are taking the equivalent of eight Efalex capsules daily, but Dr Kohn emphasises that anyone contemplating this should discuss it with their doctor first.