In April Dr. Cheney startled ME/CFS patients he announced that based on echocardiographic testing, that several commonly used supplements, some of which he had previously championed , were actually bad for ME/CFS patients. They included glutathione/whey protein, coenzyme Q. 10, D-Ribose and Vit D. Now he’s casting doubt on another core treatment; omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils).
Dr. Cheney is using something he calls ECHO Terrain mapping to assess the effectiveness of chronic fatigue syndrome treatments. This appears to involve placing a substance on the patients skin and then measuring their IVRT (speed with which the heart expands during diastole). Substances which increase IVRT are believed to have negative effects.
In his latest newsletter he reported that
In this post, we explore the incredible finding that different ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 EFA’s appear to produce dramatically different effects on the echocardiographically derived ETM, both positive and negative. Surprisingly, the use of omega-3 EFA’s and especially fish oil is uniformly negative (N=10) in CFS but not in controls (N=3). This is not terribly surprising since omega-3 oils are far more easily oxidized and is possibly explained by the more redox impaired status of CFS. However, we are also finding that omega-6 alone, while better than omega-3 alone in an oxidizing state such as CFS, is not nearly as positive as a mixture of the omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 EFA’s.
In particular, a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 of 3:1 appears ideal and generates the most positive ETM response. Such a ratio is found in high grade olive oil but not lower grades of olive oil which are as high as 13:1, omega-6 over omega-3. The use of fish oil as an omega-3 source is inferior to the use of a plant source of omega-3 such as flaxseed oil or possibly a cyanobacteria derived source such as spirulina. As the ratios of six to three approach 1:1, the ETM response becomes more variable in each patient but the 3:1 ratio of omega-six over omega-three is always a good choice if it excludes fish oil.
This important finding of large EFA ratio variances in ETM response could be used to great advantage as the regulation of the eicosanoids are very dependent on a proper EFA ratio and this appears especially so for CFS. This means that the entire paracrine and autocrine hormone system involved in eiconasoid regulation can be favorably influenced with the right EFA ratio and this could have profound and positive effects in CFS. Conversely, the wrong EFA ratios could have significant and negative consequences in CFS.
Recieved Wisdom: That is opposite to most of the received wisdom in the field which states that omega three fatty acids are good and omega six fatty acids are, for the most part, bad. The typical Western diet contains high levels of omega six fatty acids and lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Findings that omega six fatty acids appeared to quickly break down to form metabolites which turned on the inflammatory process made omega-3 fatty acid supplementation a hot item for many suffering from autoimmune disorders such as arthritis, lupus and asthma.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) – In 2006 three separate research teams published studies suggesting that chronic fatigue syndrome patients should increase their omega 3 fatty acid levels significantly as well. Dr. Nicholson cited studies showing that Propax NT factor could significantly improve the fatigue in both cancer and ME/CFS patients. Dr. Puri reported that high doses of approximately 3:1 omega 3/omega 6 fatty acid supplementation (using ‘Eye Q’) significantly helped patients. Dr Maes found that ME/CFS patients had low zinc levels, low omega 3/6 ratios and high omega 6 levels relative to healthy controls and asserted that all of these findings could be associated with increased inflammation in CFS.
Dig Deeper: More on Omega Fatty Acids in ME/CFS
A correlation between low omega 3 levels and a marker (CD 69) indicating a defect is present in the early T-cell response suggested that low omega 3 levels could play a role in the immune dysfunction seen in CFS. Reduced omega 3 levels were also associated with increased fatigue, pain and memory problems in Dr. Maes study. Increased omega 6 levels were associated with irritability, memory problems and muscular tension. (Studies in the general population suggest that increased omega three blood levels are associated with reduced rates of dementia, depression and death. )
Treatment Studies – Two studies of the efficacy of LRT therapy in CFS have had mixed results. The failed LRT study used Efamol, an LRT high in omega 6 fatty acids. The successful trial (Puri’s) used a formulation (‘Eye Q’) which has reduced omega 6 fatty acid levels. Dr. Maes suggests that CFS patients use only LRT formulations that have low or no omega 6 fatty acid levels in them.
All Wet or Leading the Way? One might begin to think, given the weight of professional opinion both inside and outside the ME/CFS community that Dr. Cheney’s electrocardiographic findings might not be as efficacious as he might think. But hold on, Dr. Cheney might not be as lone a wolf as we think; it turns out that Dr. Patricia Kane believes an almost similar ratio (4:1) of omega 6/omega-3 ratio’s is optimal as well.
“while omega 6 fatty acids have been made out to be “bad fats,” they are in fact essential to the integrity of our cell membranes and thus to our overall health. They have gotten a bad rap, a misconception that needs to be corrected.” http://www.longevity-and-antiaging-s…d-testing.html
She argues that both fatty acids have their place in the body and that taking too many omega 3 fatty can suppress omega 6’s positive effects. (The opposite does not appear to occur; omega 6’s do not appear to inhibit omega 3’s). Her testing reveals that patients taking fish oils tend to have very high omega-3 very low omega six levels. She also questions whether turning down the inflammatory response – if one is present – is always necessarily a good thing. She advises that patients eat a low carbohydrate diet rich in things such as egg yolks and a combination of cold pressed sunflower and safflower oils.
Dig Deeper! Dr. Patricia Kane and Fatty Acids
Who is right? Like so many other questions this is one that ME/CFS patients will have to decide for themselves.
Dig Deeper! – Check out a discussion of this topic in the General Treatments section of the Phoenix Rising Forums.