Q. I am quite confused and annoyed about reports that fish oil isn’t beneficial. I’ve heard for years that fish-oil supplements are good for all kinds of things, like depression and anxiety, skin and joints, and general heart health. So it is a huge disappointment to read that it doesn’t help the heart after all. Was all the hype a big fat lie?
A. An analysis of 20 clinical trials involving more than 68,000 people found that fish-oil supplements did not reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke or sudden death (JAMA, Sept. 12, 2012). Eating fish, on the other hand, has been shown to add years to life expectancy.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (April 2, 2013) concluded that healthy older people who ate at least two servings of fatty fish a week were less likely to suffer fatal heart-rhythm changes or strokes. The study followed almost 2,700 senior citizens for 16 years and measured their blood levels of omega-3 fats.
Q. I ignored my nail fungus for years, but my wife started complaining about how gross the nails are. Last fall, I started soaking my feet in a dilute vinegar solution for half an hour and then applying tea tree oil directly to the nails.
It has taken months, but the nails are nearly back to normal. What is tea tree oil, and why is it so effective?
A. Tea tree oil comes from an Australian tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It has been shown to have antifungal properties. Tea tree oil is active against the fungi that cause nail fungus (Mycopathologia online, February 2013).
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.