A small, double-blind study found that those who took 3g of fish oil per day had lower levels of anger, potentially reducing tendency towards aggressive behavior.
The trial, conducted at the Veterans Administration New York Harbor Healthcare System in Brooklyn, involved 24 people with a history of substance abuse who were participants in an outpatient treatment program.
Some of them had exhibited aggressive behaviors.
The adult male subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: one receiving 3 grams (five capsules) per day of purified fish oil containing 2250mg of EPA, 500mg of DHA and 250mg of other omega-3 EFAs. The other group received a placebo.
To assess changes in anger level, a modified version of the Profiles of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire was administered at baseline and every month thereafter for a period of three months.
The 13 patients who received the fish oil showed a clinically significant and progressive decrease in their POMS anger subscale scores.
No change was observed in the 11 patients in the placebo group.
In addition, a subset of patients was followed for an additional three-month period, without supplements: in those previously treated, POMS anger scores progressively increased but did not return to baseline.
Again, the placebo group showed no observable change in scores.
Emerging evidence suggests that low levels of omega-3 EFAs, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play a role in the pathophysiology of anger as well as depressive, suicidal, and aggressive behaviors.
Lead investigator Laure Buydens presented her findings at the 44th annual American College of Neuropsychopharmacology meeting in December,2005. An abstract reporting the results, 'N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty AcidsDecrease Feelings of Anger in a Population of Substance Abusers', waspublished in Neuropsychopharmacology.