I’ve been wanting to write about Omega 3 supplementation for a while. It’s a really important subject when it comes to inflammation in the body. If you have too little omega 3 in your body and too much omega 6, you might have a myriad of health problems because your hormonal system, and therefore your immune system can be compromised.
It’s especially important to speak to vegans and vegetarians about it because it is a lot harder for vegetarians to get the proper amount of omega 3 if they do not eat any animal products. If you are eating oily fish or taking fish oil capsules, getting omega 3 is probably not a big issue for you. But please read on to understand the link between omegas and some of the oils you might be taking to control your menopausal symptoms. Evening Primrose, Borage, and Black Currant are the oils women take to head off hot flashes and mood swings due to hormones, and they are high in omega 6. Flax oil is known to have a large amount of omega 3, but it’s complex when it comes to how it is synthesized, so if you have a problem with omega 6’s flax might still be a problem.(I personally do not touch flax seeds or the oil. There are many hormonal ramifications to using it. I’ll address that in another post.)
A little backstory first: I’d suffered from PMS, migraines, and mood swings my whole life. Very early on, probably in my late twenties, I went to the local health food store, the place where only old hippies went because alternative healthcare was relatively new, and loaded up on books about herbs and alternative therapies. I started taking tinctures from the the brand Herbs of Light, that were dedicated to women’s issues; I think it was called Female Balance. The tinctures were always a mix of the most popular herbs for adjusting hormone balance: dong quai, black cohosh, vitex…
After years of taking herbs I decided I wanted to get off them and that was right around the time soy was earning a strong reputation as a healthy phytoestrogen. I did well with soy for quite awhile; less mood swings and no cramps, but still suffered migraines.
But then there was a big backlash about soy and I started to get a bit worried that it might not be the healthiest alternative, so I went back to the books and decided on Evening Primrose Oil. That I took for about four years which brings me up to September of last year, when I started to feel like I was occupying someone else’s body.
I was feeling so badly in so many different ways I started to try to figure out if I should be off the Evening Primrose Oil and everything else, or should I find another alternative. I was moody, weepy, and angry. I was fatigued and restless. I was so uncomfortable with myself.
I started reading about whether Evening Primrose was ok to take for years, and many people felt it was fine but a couple questioned whether you suffer a backlash from it, so I determined maybe that was the problem. I tried Vitex next. That herb you’re supposed to take for about three months before it might start to work, but I was feeling worse yet, so I stopped that after two months. I decided to go back to the Evening Primrose oil at the end of November.
About a month later, my period left for good, so far, and the histamine intolerance started almost simultaneously.
So what does this all have to do with Omegas and histamine intolerance? Well, the entire time I was taking Evening Primrose Oil I thought it was a good source of omega 3, but I was completely mistaken. It is a soure of omega 6. (Borage oil and black currant are also high in omega 6) You are supposed to have the right balance of omega 3, 6 and 9 to remain healthy. If you are taking in too much omega 6 in your diet, it is inflammatory. Considering most people who eat a western diet get way too much omega 6 already, supplementing with an omega 6 would not be a good idea.
So I worried that I had really thrown my omega balance off so much that I had caused the histamine intolerance. I stopped the EPO and started to research omega 3 supplements. I found an article by Andrew Weil, whom I really think a lot of, about what vegetarians can take for omega 3 supplementation.
There are relatively new supplements on the market that vegetarians can take. (Non vegetarians can take fish oil or make sure they eat oily fish) If you are vegan or vegetarian, look for an omega 3 that has both DHA and EPA. The Weil article is older and when he wrote it supplements with EPA weren’t available but they are now. (Nordic Naturals makes one and another is called Ovega3.) Also, you need to eat a handful of walnuts to get the third component, ALA.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t share this little nugget about my precious olive oil:
Some researchers also suggest olive oil builds more healthy omega 3 : omega 6 balance by displacing omega 6 acids. Olive oil is also a very powerful anti-fatigue remedy.
I am not sure whether stopping the Evening Primrose Oil and taking the new Omega 3’s, and olive oil, has helped control my histamine intolerance. It absolutely can be part of why my body seems to be going back to “normal.” I don’t know how long it takes for the EPO to leave the system. But I’m sure my omega balance is much better than what it was so it’s possible my body’s inflammation is lower. I also would have no idea how long it might take to “normalize” the balance after so many years of overindulging in omega 6’s.
My suggestion is to take an omega 3 supplement if you think you might have an imbalance. If you do have an imbalance, that’s only going to exacerbate your inflammation. And that’s not a good thing when you are histamine intolerant. You want to lower any kind of inflammation in the body.
I realize I was taking the EPO for years before I ever had a histamine intolerance problem, but remember, everything about your hormonal system changes so maybe menopause was the trigger when it came to the balance of omegas. This is, of course, just a theory like my adrenal fatigue theory. I am not a doctor. But I have been working on putting all the puzzle pieces together, and I know it’s not just one thing that did it.
Many women are taking those oils to help control the symptoms of menopause. And many women have histamine problems during menopause. It only makes sense that this is one other issue to address when trying to minimize, control and cure histamine intolerance brought on by menopause.
This post probably isn’t written as elegantly as I’d like, but I’ve wanted to get this information up because I think it is really key to some of what we might all be suffering with. Until I update with a link to the information, google omega 3-6-9 to find in depth explanations.
This is a great article on omegas.
I’ve started to plug in the words omega 6 and cortisol into search engines and have come up with some fascinating information. This is another site that has a good explanation of what omegas are, what the balance should be, and what foods should be avoided.
I’m going to add to this list, but take a look at that article. Remember, when researching on the web you always have to take what you find with a grain of salt, so I don’t stop at just one site. And I tend to try to hit the medical sites like Webmd and the Mayo clinic’s site too. I always want to hear from all sides of the arguments. But the above site was pretty succinct and backed up the other things I have read elsewhere. Again, if the site is selling something, I do not have anything to do with it. I am not promoting other’s products or even their sites. I am just trying to disseminate information.
And I just found this statement on a website about menopause and cortisol levels:
Symptoms of abnormal cortisol levels become more evident in menopause, when the masking effects of estrogen and progesterone diminish.
I’m still very much thinking the connection between menopause and histamine has to do with the adrenals and the amount of cortisol circulating though the body. The supplements I’ve taken helped manage the histamine intolerance, along with the low histamine diet, but the omega 3 and olive oil might just be the things leveling out the cortisol, which would be the underlying issue for menopausal histamine intolerant women, which would mean we don’t have to live with histamine intolerance. It’s fixable.