The ugly side of Fish Oil aka My Nemechek gut check

Edited to add: I apologize to the Nemechek  followers this post has apparently offended, however, you need to understand a few things about me before you critique me and our unique journey to health in the comments.

First, since you're into natural healing, please read my other blog posts and go to our Publicity page to see our story in the News along with the other families we've been blessed to be able to help with donkey milk, don't just read this one.  We all know that different things work for different kids. If Nemecheck works for you, wonderful! Just don't discount the possibility that it may not work for everyone. Our daughter was dealing with PANDAS, not Autism. Now, onward ho!

  1. I use sarcasm and humor to get my point across. My children are not actually guinea pigs. It's called humor.
  2. I don't discount all Protocols and Experts, just the ones that I think may be fishy. (Sorry, humor again. It's a problem I have.) You ask why I have a distrust of experts? Perhaps if you had sat in as many expert's offices and had to explain to them 1) what PANDAS is and 2) current accepted protocols for how to treat it, you would be a bit wary too. Or heard "Our best guess for treatment is antibiotics every day until your child is 18 or 21. Oh, and would you like to apply to have your child be a part of our latest research study on IVIG vs placebos?" Hmmmm. No thank you National Institute for Mental Health. (Since we're on the subject of guinea pigs and experimenting on our kids...)
  3. I'm quite sure that many of these protocols are amazingly beneficial for the majority of children, however, that doesn't mean it's a good fit for ALL of our children. (Donkey milk is the same's amazing for some kids, but not all react the same way.)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled, controversial mom post....

It’s about fish oil, and my lack of trust in Protocols and Experts. My girl has been doing great, marvelous, and I’ve been thankful for it, and possibly taking it for granted. Then I happened to read about this guy and his Nemechek Protocol, and how he is having great results with giving Autistic kids Fish Oil (Nordic Naturals Gummies) and Inulin (prebiotics.) And, being paleo, we eat a lot of nuts, so I figured that adding a gummy fish oil to our diets might not be a bad idea. Balance out those EPA’s and DHA’s and all that. I also told a friend about it who has a son struggling with some behavioral issues.

A few days into it I noticed that my girl was struggling with anxiety during the day, having worried thoughts, etc. And, worse yet, she was waking up at night scared. I attributed it to a new tooth breaking through (loose teeth and naturally occuring streptococcus "good" bacteria in the mouth can affect PANDAS kids) and figured it would pass. Then I saw my friend at our homeschool co-op. She had jumped on to the fish oil wagon and, oddly enough, her son’s behavior went from bad to worse. Maybe it was die-off? Maybe it was too much, too soon? I hate to admit it, but I still didn’t put two and two together. I still blamed the offending tooth.

Another week goes by, and more of the same. Then we ran out of fish oil. Suddenly I thought, “Hmmmm, what if it’s the fish oil?” So I didn’t buy any more. And guess what? Within about 48 hours she stopped having the anxiety and started sleeping again. The tooth still hasn’t broken through. We haven’t changed anything else. Just those stinking Fish Oil Gummies.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, “Those Gummies are full of junk! It was the Gummy!” And you may have a point, but we eat a totally paleo diet and for my girls, taking a vitamin C in Gummy form is their one “treat”. When other kids get candy and daily doses of junk, mine get an expensive gummy vitamin. And gummy vitamins have never bothered them before now.

Turns out, that friend that had started her son on the fish oil gummies? He wasn't doing so hot either.

So, I shared this story in my favorite crunchy mom's PANDAS facebook group, (Saving our PANDAS), and one of the mom’s shared that Fish Oil is high in Histamines, and they can’t tolerate them either. (Hmmmm. So is Kombucha, and it makes me instantly phlegmy. Gross, but I love Kombucha, it’s my healthy alternative to Pop, so I drink it and hock snot. It’s a trade off.) As it turns out, there is something to this histamine thing. More mom’s started saying their kids can’t tolerate fish oil either. And when I looked into the histamine response, turns out if you happen to have a strong histamine response, it can trigger anxiety, etc. AND, if you’re one of those unlucky people with either a genetic predisposition to this histamine intolerance (Mast Cell something or other), then you should avoid fermented foods (high in histamines), like….Kombucha….cheeses….and Fish Oil, among other things.

So, for goodness sake, if you are one of us in the unlucky club, you might want to save your $49.99 and stop giving your kids fish oil. And perhaps reconsider the Fermented Cod Liver Oil. (I know, I did it faithfully, gagging it down like a champ.) And maybe replace that Kombucha with a cup of Joe. (I can’t believe I even typed that…my fingers might fall off.)

So, Mr. Nemecheck, you might want to re-think your Protocol, or at least give the small percentage of us that react badly a fair warning.

I hear there are some good plant based EPA and DHA supplements. Hemp, anyone? Purslane? Ahi-Flower? Here is a great article by Chris Kresser that goes into way more detail about it. Definitely worth the read. And then look into Daimine Oxidase Enzyme, which, interestingly, is naturally found in the Thymus (go back and search for my post on the Thymus and it’s immune modulating properties.)

Here's another interesting article about healing histamine with sprouted plants. Let me know if you try it! We've been considering feeding the donkeys sprouted grains, so this theory is especially intriguing to me.

PS. See how I linked up Mr. Nemechek's book club to this post? You're welcome. And no, I'm not getting a kick back for that.

Post taken from my private blog, written Jan 17, 2018.

Lovely fish photo credit to


  • Gloria

    Been on the protocol for 6 months my son has gotten worse..

  • Daniel Moore

    Anyone who is actually educated would never accept this protocol. First of all he believes he knows the cause of autism, we know that’s not true.
    Second, the reason it’s so based on inflammation is because he assumed autism is a disease, again, we know that’s not true.
    Nemechek was caught doing plagiarism of the work of others, and has no speciality in neurology, biology, disabilities themselves, and lost his credibility without any peer reviews.

    I can’t believe people are so carelessly accepting this protocol without doing their research, and the fact that the NHS are not recommending it. If I had an autistic child I would not accept something without doing my own research and without the recommendation of an actual specialist.

  • Alexandra Dunnison

    As Wendy said in her comment, Sept 2020, Dr. Nemechek does address the histamine issues. Unfortunately, you may not have gotten that information. Indeed many who have ANS dysfunction have histamine issues, along with many other problems. With ANS dysfunction we often can’t tolerate a lot of things well because our systems are not working properly. The protocol, over time, is designed to address histamine issues as well as food intolerances (not food allergies) and many other things. Many in the FB groups say they have started with literally a drop at a time, while taking an antihistamine, and continuing with the rest of the protocol. Then as healing takes place the histamine reactions go away and things like anxiety continue to improve. So it is not so much about whether fish oil is something that causes anxiety or other problems in some people. This is actually a symptom that indicates that the protocol is needed, and often a temporary unfortunate symptom. The fix is to go low and slow, as mentioned above, while taking the inulin (or Rifaximin) to heal the gut, and continuing with the certified California olive oil. Perhaps if you have the opportunity to pick up the new book you might be willing to give it another try. I know so many that have benefitted significantly with many different diagnoses and it would be wonderful if it could benefit your daughter.

  • Axel

    For my daughter, the ‘awakening period’ the doctor describes in his book was even more brutal than you have experienced. But the results of a year into the protocol have been undeniable. The thing is, all of the supplements need to be taken, not just the fish oil, otherwise you’re just intoxicating your children with fish oil that their guts will never be able to properly absorb, that’s completely useless if not harmful. The first step is inulin for your gut so that you can absorb nutrients properly. The only thing I find absurd about the protocol is he says no change in the diet are needed other than reducing omega 6 intake… But that’s simply not true. Inuline alone cannot make miracles and the protocol will not work if you don’t reduce or even eliminate gluten, dairy, processed food and sugar.

  • Jess

    I’m sorry to hear your kid had an increase in anxiety. For my son and I the opposite happened. I did the Nemecheck protocol to try help his speech (asd, verbal dyspraxia and associated stammer). I took the protocol alongside him to see if it caused any digestive issues. His stammer, if anything, seemed to actually get a little worse but we persisted. About 6 months into the protocol I noticed that my anxiety attacks had stopped ( I would get at least 5 a week!). Then I realised that my son had stopped complaining about feeling sick whenever we had to leave the house (anxiety). The protocol did for me what years of yoga, meditation, healthy living, cbt could not. It stopped my anxiety and panic. And it stopped my son’s anxiety also. I will be forever grateful to Dr Nemecheck. I appreciate there will be people who cannot tolerate the ingredients, there will always be exceptions.

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