Why SPMs Are An Important Consideration For Long COVID
Way back in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, several prominent functional medicine practitioners voiced their concerns, not just about the immediate risk of acute infection with SARS-CoV-2 but of the longer term risks of post-viral illness too. And sadly, these early concerns have proven to have been well founded, with many people now suffering from Long COVID or Post COVID Syndrome. You can read more about this here.
And whilst there is still much focus on how best to support immune health to deal with an acute viral infection, there is now heightened interest in identifying natural ways to support those who are suffering from lingering symptoms too.
In this article we take a closer look at incredible compounds called Specialised Pro-Resolving Mediators (SPMs) and what makes them an important consideration for Long COVID.
What are SPMs?
Inflammation is an important protective mechanism which the body uses as a swift response to a potential infectious or non-infectious threat. Inflammation is essential and we couldn’t survive without it, however it’s important that it gets ‘switched off’ once it’s no longer needed. This is called the resolution phase of inflammation. Only fairly recently, researchers led by Professor Charles Serhan PhD, DSc, from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discovered a superfamily of chemical mediators called specialised pro-resolving mediators (SPMs) that are crucial for the resolution phase. In simple terms, SPMs function as inflammation’s ‘stop signals’. Dysregulation of the resolution phase, including reduced production of SPMs may lead to uncontrolled or chronic low-grade inflammation characterised by excessive intensity of the inflammatory response and insufficient resolution, causing pain, tissue damage and destruction. SPMs are critical for our ability to ‘bounce back’ from inflammation stressors. SPMs are produced in the body from omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) & Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
What makes SPMs an important consideration for Long COVID?
SPMs are being studied for their potential protective role in COVID-19. Back in 2020, Professor Charles Serhan co-authored a peer-reviewed paper that highlighted the potential for SPMs in addressing excessive, uncontrolled inflammation and collateral tissue damage in COVID-19. And whilst Long COVID or Post COVID-19 Syndrome is a complex multifactorial problem, chronic inflammation is considered to be a significant underlying factor here too. The crucial role that SPMs play in inflammation resolution means that they have significant potential to help bring this inflammation back into balance and thus may be a useful therapeutic consideration in Long COVID.
Omega-3s & SPMs
Ensuring optimal daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA is important for everyone, and especially anyone struggling with chronic or uncontrolled inflammation as it’s the omega-3 fatty acids that provide the building blocks for the body to make SPMs. To ensure optimal intake, you can supplement with omega-3 rich fish oil daily, or for more targeted support, you can supplement with omega-3 fish oil enriched with SPMs.
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