Dietary fish oil effects on seasonal hay fever and asthma in pollen-sensitive subjects

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 May;147(5):1138-43. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/147.5.1138.


The effects of taking 18 capsules a day of Max-EPA (3.2 g/day eicosapentaenoic acid) on clinical symptoms and bronchial hyperresponsiveness were studied in pollen-sensitive subjects over a pollen season in a parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled (olive oil) fashion. The study was conducted over the 1990 and 1991 pollen seasons in London, England. A total of 37 nonsmoking pollen-sensitive asthmatic subjects were entered into the trial, and 25 completed the 6-month study period over the 2 yr. The preseasonal geometric mean PD35 SGaw of histamine for the fish oil (n = 12) and placebo (n = 9) groups were 0.62 and 0.42 mumol, respectively. During the middle of the pollen season, histamine PD35 SGaw fell significantly for both the fish oil (0.11 mumol, p < 0.0001) and placebo groups (0.10 mumol, p < 0.007), indicating increased bronchial reactivity compared with preseasonal values, but there was no significant difference between the groups. Similarly, morning and evening peak expiratory flow (PEF), diurnal variability in PEF, nocturnal cough and wheeze, daytime wheeze, and activity, as well as nasal symptoms and increased usage of medication, were not significantly different between the groups. Compliance was confirmed by neutrophil and plasma phospholipid analysis, which showed significant rises in eicosapentaenoic acid content in the fish oil group but not in the placebo group. We conclude that dietary fish oil supplementation does not prevent seasonal hay fever and asthma in pollen-sensitive subjects during the pollen season.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Combinations
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / therapeutic use
  • Histamine
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Neutrophils
  • Peak Expiratory Flow Rate
  • Phospholipids / blood
  • Pollen
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / blood
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / physiopathology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal / therapy*


  • Drug Combinations
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Maxepa
  • Phospholipids
  • Docosahexaenoic Acids
  • Histamine
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid