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Omega3 Fatty Acids as Adjunctive Therapy in Crohns Disease

MacDonald, Angie MS, RD, CNSD

Gastroenterology Nursing:
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Crohns disease is an inflammatory bowel disease that can have a significant impact on the health of those afflicted. The etiology of the disease is unknown, but genetic, environmental, dietary, and immunological factors are thought to be involved. Multiple nutrients can become depleted during active disease due to inadequate intake or malabsorption. Preventing these deficiencies is paramount in the care of those suffering from Crohns disease. Often the traditional treatments (medications) have limited effectiveness and negative side effects that inhibit their use. Enteral nutrition has promising therapeutic benefits, but its use is often limited to the pediatric population due to poor patient acceptability. Omega-3 fatty acids have been investigated for their anti-inflammatory properties as an alternative to traditional care. This article reviews the etiology of Crohns disease, nutritional deficiencies, traditional treatments, and the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of Crohns recurrence. The results from clinical trials have been conflicting, but a new fish oil preparation that limits the side effects of traditional fish oil therapy shows promise as an adjunctive treatment for Crohns disease. Continued research is needed to validate these findings.

Author Information

Angie MacDonald, MS, RD, CNSD, is a Nutrition Support Dietitian, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan.

Correspondence to: Angie MacDonald, MS, RD, CNSD, St. John Hospital and Medical Center, 22101 Moross Road, Detroit, Michigan 48236 (e-mail:

Received February 28, 2006; accepted June 5, 2006.

© The Society of Gastroenterology Nurses & Associates 2006. All Rights Reserved.