Specialized Pro-Resolution Mediators (SPMs): A Newer Way to Stop Chronic Inflammation

Have you heard that there are newer methods to stop chronic inflammation? When acute inflammation occurs, it normally resolves. If it chronically persists, the ongoing inflammation places a person at risk for a variety of health concerns. A newer way to stop chronic inflammation is to use specialized pro-resolution mediators or SPRMs, which function differently than anti-inflammatory drugs.

Many people rely on anti-inflammatory supplements like NSAIDs or other medications to manage inflammation. Anti-inflammation, however, is not the same as pro-resolution lipid mediators. Pro-resolution mediators stimulate and activate endogenous pathways to terminate inflammation at multiple levels in a variety of cell types and disease.

Fish oil has also long been a go-to for inflammation and pain. It likely provides the raw material to develop SPMs. While supplementation with EPA and DHA has been used for many years to help with inflammation, newer fish oil supplements containing an SPM-enriched product are now available to help stop inflammation and pain. SPM are part of the omega-3 fatty acid spectrum that has a powerful effect on reducing inflammation, providing a newer way to regulate the inflammatory response.

SPMs are metabolites of arachidonic acid (AA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), called lipoxins, resolvins, progectins, neuroprotectins, and maresins. EPA and DHA conversion to SPM is one mechanism by which omega 3 fatty acids work to ameliorate inflammatory diseases. SPMs signal the immune system to stop actively responding to pro-inflammatory signals, and instead help the body return to homeostasis.

SPMs function uniquely to help the body to shut down the immune response, inhibit additional inflammation, clear away the damaging byproducts of inflammation, and aid in tissue repair. SPMs can facilitate the resolution even of prolonged or chronic inflammation. Once the SPMs have done their job, the body naturally breaks them down and eliminates them.

SPMs act, at least in part, by either activating or inhibiting cells through binding to and thereby activating or inhibiting the activation of specific cellular receptors. SPMs are produced in humans in blood, milk, and the brain. A mother’s breast milk is particularly rich in SPMs in the first month of lactation. Our body’s internal capability of producing SPMs depends in part on our nutrition and lifestyle. However, SPMs can be impacted by:

  • Aging
  • Environmental Toxins
  • High intake of low-quality dietary fats
  • High intake of processed carbohydrates
  • Too little exercise or overexertion
  • Physical stressors
  • Insufficient or poor quality sleep

Many people, for example with chronic inflammation and pain, may find an exacerbation of their pain when they eat poor quality oils such as vegetable or canola oil or indulge in sweets. While correcting poor diet and lifestyle habits can make a positive impact, often, this may not have a large enough effect to reduce chronic inflammation and pain.

SPMs have been used to manage a variety of inflammatory conditions including allergic inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disease, psoriasis, and atherosclerosis. Research suggests that SPMs can be particularly valuable for people with asthma, arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cognitive decline. SPMs have also been used very effectively to treat gut problems, particularly leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel disease, and to aid recovery in bone and muscle injuries. Recent research has shown that daily dosing with two to six soft gels over six weeks can reduce standard blood markers of inflammation such as hs-CRP, interleukins, fibrinogen, and TNF-alpha.

How do SPMs work?

SPMs work through down-regulating the inflammatory process to resolve inflammation after an acute inflammatory response. They affect many cells involved in inflammation including neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes, lymphocytes, platelets, macrophages, microglial cells, mast cells, dendritic cells, and neurons. Through the effects on all these cells, they exert a variety of actions on the inflammatory process, which is why they can be used for managing inflammation in so many different chronic conditions. Here’s some of the ways in how they work:

  • Affect migration of cells involved in inflammation into inflamed tissues
  • Prevent the release of pro-inflammatory mediators
  • Inhibit blood clotting at the damage tissue site
  • Inhibit the release of cells that release histamine
  • Inhibit pain receptors.

SPMs also stimulate anti-inflammatory and tissue repair in muscle cells, skin cells, bone cells, intestinal cells, lung cells, and kidney cells.

SPM are key regulators in pathways in unresolved inflammation, obesity, cognitive decline, reproduction, neuroprotection, and cancer, and are now proven to have a wide range of actions that open new ways of resolving inflammation and rebalancing the body. SPMs are available as supplements. They can be very useful as part of a protocol to address an individual’s inflammation and pain in addition to functional laboratory testing to identify and address underlying causes of chronic inflammation and pain. Learn more about how you can naturally achieve freedom from chronic inflammation and pain.


Silverman, R. (2017). Specialized pro-resolving mediators: A new tool for resolving inflammation. Integrative Practitioner.  https://www.integrativepractitioner.com/about/integrative-healthcare-symposium/specialized-pro-resolving-mediators-new-tool-resolving-inflammation.

Serhan CN, Chiang N, Dalli J. The resolution code of acute inflammation: Novel pro-resolving lipid mediators in resolution. Semin Immunol. 2015;27(3):200-215. doi:10.1016/j.smim.2015.03.004.

Basil MC, Levy BD. Specialized Pro-resolving Mediators:Endogenous Regulators of infection and inflammation. Nature Reviews Immunology, Vol 16, January, 2016.

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