Not just for asthma sufferers…

According to a recent Science Daily article (see:, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Med School have discovered a molecule called resolvin E1 (RvE1) produced by the body from omega-3 fatty acids that helps resolve and prevent respiratory distress in laboratory mice. This molecule is found in cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel and, ugh, anchovies) and is produced by the body in response to the onset of inflammation. The abstract can be read here:


The experts still do not completely understand why fish oil is so effective against inflammation: increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids are associated with lower asthma prevalence in people, but the mechanisms to support that observation are poorly understood.


But the main thing is: omega-3 fatty oils are effective against asthma.


One thing led to another, and I found myself involved in a bit of research that I hadn’t intended to do (happens a lot to me…Smiley face). Completely by chance, in fact, I came upon a study by a team of Japanese researchers on the same topic–asthma, mice and RvE1–a study published in March 2008 (see:, that is, a few months before the publication of the study reported in Science Daily. The Japanese researchers discovered the exact same thing about RvE1.


So, just for the heck of it, I did a search on PubMed for RvE1 and asthma, and found another study (full version available for free here: published back in 2005 (!!!) on the protective anti-inflammatory effect of this molecule, and on the role it has in preventing (drum roll!) osteoclast-mediated bone destruction in periodontitis (= a severe form of gum disease).


Osteoclasts? Why, those are the hyperactive bone-destroyers in multiple myeloma…! At that point, I had a look at the full study, where I read that bone loss in periodontitis is caused by osteoclast activity. The researchers discovered that the animals (sigh) with periodontitis that were treated with RvE1 had only a few osteoclasts compared to the untreated ones. Conclusion: RvE1 inhibits osteoclasts. Well, well! (I just hope that the “animals” involved in this study were tiger mosquitoes…)


Another excerpt tells us that periodontitis has pathogenic features similar to those observed in other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. And read this: Resolvins are a new family of bioactive products of omega-3 fatty acid transformation circuits initiated by aspirin treatment that counter proinflammatory signals. Because it is now increasingly apparent that local inflammation plays a critical role in many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and asthma, experiments were undertaken to evaluate the actions of the newly described EPA-derived Resolvin E1 (RvE1) in regulation of neutrophil tissue destruction and resolution of inflammation. The results were that RvE1, used as a topical pharmacologic agent, was found to prevent the progression of tissue destruction


Treatment with RvE1 was more effective and less damaging than the chronic use of antibiotics. Interesting. The researchers propose that regulating inflammation with molecules such as RvE1 is a rational new therapeutic approach to the treatment of osteoclast-mediated bone disease. Aha!!!


It turns out that there are 32 studies in PubMed on RvE1. The earliest study dealing with the specific anti-inflammatory activity of these so-called resolvins, as far as I can tell, dates to 2004. But the above-mentioned Science Daily article led me to believe that RvE1 was a startling NEW discovery. Why would that be? Well, I have learned my lesson. From now on, whenever I see exclamations such as “exciting new discovery…,” I will do a background check. There just might be a less publicized precedent…as happened with the IRF4 studies…


Now for my own personal experience. I have suffered from asthma for years. I know the main source of my trouble: cats. I am very allergic to cats, but I am also a huge cat-lover (life is unfair, sometimes…!) and now have four cats. When Stefano and I went to Northumberland in April I didn’t have one asthma attack, not even with all the walking we did. I didn’t use my cortisone inhaler or my Ventolin. Why? No cats. Simple.


My non-cat loving friends think I’m nuts. They don’t understand that the benefits of having cats in my life far outweigh the inconvenience of having to use a cortisone inhaler once a day (I would like to mention that in the pre-curcumin period I was much worse off, and used cortisone and Ventolin quite a lot).


Recently, though, I haven’t needed to use my inhaler. As for Ventolin, well, I haven’t used it in a long time. Is it a coincidence that I have started taking a fish oil supplement in recent months? After reading about RvE1, I think the answer to that question is “no.” 


So my fish oil intake is probably inhibiting my overly eager osteoclasts…and it has gotten rid of my asthma…at least for now…

Hey, that means I can adopt another cat! Hehe…just kidding! (or am I?) wink smiley


  1. I can also vouch for the effectiveness of Omega 3.
    Before I was diagnosed with MGUS, I had problems with a night-time wheeze that my GP diagnosed as asthma. It seemed more like bronchitis to me but, whatever it was, the wheeze has gone since I started taking Omega 3. I don’t get problems with excema now either.

    You write mostly about fish oil but I guess that flaxseed oil is just as good if you are a vegetarian.

    One thing I didn’t know about was the effect on osteoclastic activity. That is absolutely brilliant news.

    I’m not sure I fully understood the phrase, “bioactive products of omega-3 fatty acid transformation circuits initiated by aspirin treatment”. Does that mean we ought to be taking aspirin as well?

    Finally, is there any suggestion about dosage? I’m taking 2 tablespoons of flax with a yoghurt (per Dr Budwig) every evening. It seems to work fine but I guess you can overdo it like everything else.


  2. I enjoy reading your musings-You have an amazing voice, rich with science, spirit and a love of life.
    I have started a blog recently and am interested in your process. I too am an English teacher and have stopped working (but was ready to retire MM decided it for me) I’m interested in doing fund raising as well as sharing my experiences and insights.


  3. I thought I would mention to Paul above that taking just flaxseed oil instead of fish oil didn’t work well for me. It seems that I need to take fish oils in order to maintain my sense of well-being. My doctor told me, when I asked to switch from flax to fish oils, that not everyone can convert flax oil to Omega 3 fatty acids efficiently. My mood is so much better now that I’m taking fish oils.


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