Copyright © 2021 Natural Medicines (
May 2013

Fish Oil May Reduce Physical Response to Stress

Fish oil supplementation may help reduce the body's physical response to mental stress, according to a study.

Fish oil is one dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. It contains both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). There is evidence suggesting that fish and fish oil intake may help lower triglycerides, as well as the risk of death, heart attack, dangerous abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes in people with heart problems. Fish oil may also help slow the buildup of plaques in the arteries and may lower blood pressure.

Extensive research has focused on the potential heart-related benefits of fish oil. In the current study, the scientists set out to explore the link between mental stress and heart problems. They proposed that fish oil may help reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and nerve activity responses to mental stress. A total of 67 people without high blood pressure participated in the study. They received either fish oil supplements or a placebo for eight weeks. The research team conducted a mental stress test before and after this period of supplementation.

The results suggested that fish oil may reduce heart rate reactivity to mental stress. However, they found a lack of effect on blood pressure responses to mental stress. Total nerve reactivity in response to stress also appeared to decrease in the fish oil group.

The researchers concluded that eight weeks of fish oil supplementation may significantly decrease heart rate and nerve reactivity in response to mental stress. These findings may help support the possible benefits of fish oil on the link between mental stress and heart problems. However, more information is needed before firm conclusions can be made.

Stress is a common condition for which many integrative therapies have been studied. Kava and music therapy are both supported by strong scientific evidence for relieving stress. There is good scientific evidence supporting the use of acupressure, art therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, therapeutic touch, and yoga in stress reduction.

For more information about fish oil, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Carter JR, Schwartz CE, Yang H, et al. Fish oil and neurovascular reactivity to mental stress in humans. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2013 Apr;304(7):R523-30. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00031.2013. Epub 2013 Feb 13. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2021 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.