Do we all suffer from omega-6 fatty acid deficiency?
[c] 2015 (now in print); softback; $27.50; 532 pp.
Brian Peskin is the author of a number of books, all published by Pinnacle Press, based on the idea that health and disease are predicated on having sufficient omega-6 fatty acids. Peskin, who graduated in electrical engineering from MIT and taught briefly at Texas Southern University, has devoted the past decade to teaching and promoting his theory about "PEOs"--parent essential oils. By "essential oil," he is referring to the omega-6 linoleic acid and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. Peskin considers omega-3 supplements containing DHA and EPA "derivatives" of the "parent" omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). From Peskin's perspective, derivative fats, unlike unadulterated PEOs, interfere with normal body biochemistry and physiology. In his previous book, The Hidden Story of Cancer, Peskin made his case for using PEOs in preventing and treating cancer. In PEO Solution, Peskin reiterates this same theory that the population at large is eating a diet replete with adulterated oils, particularly adulterated omega-6 fats. These fats oxidize cholesterol, deform cellular and mitochondrial membranes, and directly contribute to the process of inflammation and, thereby, atherosclerosis, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. Further, Peskin makes the case that omega-3 supplementation in the form of fish and marine oil worsens that pathology--and he proceeds to cite about 100 medical studies that he asserts support his position. In PEO Solution, Peskin brings on board Robert Rowen, MD, who is a practicing oxidative-therapy physician and author of the newsletter "Second Opinion," to bring a vegetarian's perspective about how adulterated omega-6 fats and excess omega-3 fish oil are endangering our health.
Peskin examines the body tissue composition of omega-6 to omega-3 PEOs. The ratio in muscle is 6:1, adipose tissue is 22:1, brain is 100:1 and skin is 1000:1. The composition of omega-6 to omega-3 PEOs in plasma is 9:1 and in cholesterol esters 100:1. Peskin states that our diet composition should therefore favor omega-6 to omega-3 PEOs by 11:1. While the standard American diet provides adequate levels of omega-6 fats, the majority of these oils are adulterated during the manufacturing process and later in cooking. Peskin discusses a recent review by S. D. Anton, who examines the effects of adulterated versus unadulterated linoleic acid on cardiovascular health (J Integrat Med. 2013; 11 :2-10). Peskin disavows the general consensus that arachidonic acid formed from omega-6 fats is inflammatory; instead he asserts that it is critical for forming the prostaglandin PGI2, "the body's most powerful natural 'blood thinner', platelet anti-aggregator and anti-adhesive vasodilator." Peskin and Rowen advise the consumption of nuts that contain high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 PEOs. Many other foods also contain high ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fats, including avocado, coconut, olive, parsley, beet, carrot, and tomato. Peskin and Rowen prefer that vegetables be eaten either raw or only lightly cooked (using butter rather than olive oil or vegetable oils). Peskin argues that daily supplementation with an unadulterated oil having a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is necessary; Rowen advocates a diet of raw "living foods" providing naturally the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 balance. Both Peskin and Rowen argue that there is no need for fish oil supplementation--in fact, avoidance of high-dose omega-3 supplementation may be clinically helpful in reversing symptomatology. Peskin concedes that if one is looking for a "steroidlike" effect, fish oil offers support for managing autoimmune disease. However, he states that supplementation of unadulterated omega-6 PEOs offers the best possibility of reversing cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as cancer.
PEO Solution is an opinionated read--Peskin does not think that his theory is wrong and he challenges the reader to substantiate why omega-3 supplementation is preferred to omega-6 supplementation. He admits that he dismisses the "weak evidence" offered in more than 1500 studies of omega-3s; he considers many of them to have faulty scientific conclusions. Unfortunately, he is unable to review the results of any published studies testing PEO supplementation versus placebo--because there are none to date. Instead Peskin reports the comments of satisfied individuals who have followed a low-carbohydrate diet using PEO supplements. Both Peskin and Rowen use their own personal medical histories to justify the PEO theory. Unhappily for the more conservative reader, Peskin writes with great hubris--his frequent philosophical asides do not necessarily make his arguments more persuasive. Still Peskin's theory deserves to be read and considered. For those patients who have been taking omega-3 supplements for a long time, there might be a need to hold them and see what happens.
review by Jonathan Collin, MD