Flaxseed Oil (Linum Usitatissimum)

Flaxseed Oil Benefits

A rich source of healing compounds, flaxseed (also called linseed) has been cultivated for more than 7000 years. First cultivated in Europe, the plant's brown seeds were regularly used to prepare balms for inflamed skin and healing slurries for constipation. Rich in essential fatty acids, or EFAs, flaxseed oil is used to prevent and treat heart disease and to relieve a variety of inflammatory disorders and hormone-related problems, including infertility.

A source of fiber for linen fabric since ancient times, the slender flax plant also boasts a long history as a healing herb. Today, flaxseeds are best known for the therapeutic oil that is derived by pressing them. Flaxseed oil has earned a solid reputation for treating a range of ailments ranging from heart disease to lupus.

The essential fatty acids (Omega oils) in flaxseed oil are one of its key healing components. EFAs are particularly valuable because the body needs them to function properly, but can't manufacture them on its own. Essential fatty acids work throughout the body to protect cell membranes, keeping them efficient at admitting healthy substances while barring damaging ones.

One of the EFAs in flaxseed oil, alpha-linolenic acid, is known as an omega-3 fatty acid. Like the omega-3s found in fish, it appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and numerous other ailments.

Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega-3s: Just 1 teaspoon contains about 2.5 grams, equivalent to more than twice the amount most people get through their diets. Flaxseeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid; omega-6s are the same healthy fats found in vegetable oils.

Flaxseed oil only contains these alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3 oils), and not the fiber or lignan components that the whole plant contains. Therefore, flaxseed oil provides the Omega 3 benefits, such as lipid-lowering properties, but not the laxative or anti-cancer properties.

Whole flaxseeds (not the extracted oil) are a rich source of lignans (phytoestrogens), substances that appear to positively affect hormone-related problems. Lignans may also be useful in preventing certain cancers and combating specific bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including those that cause cold sores and shingles.

Flaxseed may help to:

Lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and control high blood pressure:

Several studies indicate that flaxseed oil, as well as ground flaxseeds, can lower cholesterol, thereby significantly reducing the risk of heart disease. Taking flaxseed oil may also protect against angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure. In addition, a five-year study done recently at Boston's Simmons College found that flaxseed oil may be useful in preventing a second heart attack. It may also help prevent elevated blood pressure by inhibiting inflammatory reactions that cause artery-hardening plaque and poor circulation.

Counter inflammation associated with gout, lupus and fibrocystic breasts:

Omega-3 fatty acids appear to limit the inflammatory reaction associated with these conditions. In cases of lupus, flaxseed oil not only reduces inflammation in the joints, skin and kidneys, but also lowers cholesterol levels that may be elevated by the disease. Taking flaxseed oil for gout may lessen the often sudden and severe joint pain or swelling that is a symptom of this condition. In addition, the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to boost the absorption of iodine (a mineral often found in low levels in women suffering from fibrocystic breasts) makes flaxseed oil potentially valuable for treating this often painful condition.

Control constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disorders and gallstones:

As they are high in dietary fibre, ground flaxseeds can help ease the passage of stools and thus relieve constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. In those with diverticular disease, flaxseeds may also keep intestinal pouches free of waste and thus keep potential infection at bay. Taken for inflammatory bowel disease, flaxseed oil can help to calm inflammation and repair any intestinal tract damage. In addition, the oil may prevent painful gallstones from developing and even dissolve existing stones.

Treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea:

The essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil are largely responsible for its skin-healing powers. Red, itchy patches of eczema, psoriasis and rosacea often respond to the EFA's anti-inflammatory actions and overall skin-soothing properties. Sunburned skin may heal faster when treated with the oil as well. In cases of acne, the EFAs encourage thinning of the oily sebum that clogs pores.

Promote healthy hair and nails:

The abundant omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil have been shown to contribute to healthy hair growth (in fact, low levels of these acids may cause dry and lackluster locks). Hair problems exacerbated by psoriasis or eczema of the scalp may respond to the skin-revitalizing and anti-inflammatory actions of flaxseed oil as well. Similarly, the oil's EFAs work to nourish dry or brittle nails, stopping them from cracking or splitting.

Minimise nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling as well as other disorders:

The EFAs in flaxseed oil assist in the transmission of nerve impulses, making the oil potentially valuable in treating conditions of numbness and tingling. The oil's nerve-nourishing actions may also help in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system, and protect against the nerve damage associated with diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Reduce cancer risk and guard against the effects of ageing:

The lignans in flaxseed appear to play a role in protecting against breast, colon, prostate, and perhaps skin cancer. Although further studies are needed, research undertaken at the University of Toronto indicates that women with breast cancer, regardless of the degree of cancer invasiveness, may benefit from treatment with flaxseed. Interestingly, the lignans may protect against various effects of ageing as well.

Treat menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, female infertility and endometriosis:

Because the hormone-balancing lignans and plant estrogens (phytoestrogens) in flaxseed help stabilise a woman's estrogen-progesterone ratio, they can have beneficial effects on the menstrual cycle, and relieve the hot flashes of perimenopause and menopause. Flaxseed may also improve uterine function and thus treat fertility problems. In addition, the essential fatty acids in flaxseed have been shown to block production of prostaglandins, hormone like substances that, when released in excess amounts during menstruation, can cause the heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis.

Fight prostate problems, male infertility and impotence:

The EFAs in flaxseed oil may help to prevent swelling and inflammation of the prostate, the small gland located below the bladder in males that tends to enlarge with age. Symptoms of such enlargement, such as urgency to urinate, may lessen as a result. The EFAs also play a role in keeping sperm healthy, which may be of value in treating male infertility, and they can improve blood flow to the penis, a boon for those suffering from impotence.

Flaxseed Oil Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Name:

Linum usitatissimum

Common Names:

Ama, Annual Flax, Chih Ma, Common Flax, Cultivated Flax, Flax, Flaxseed oil, Graine de lin, Hu Ma, Kahtan, Keten, Kettan, Kittan, Lin, Linaza, Lino, Linseed, Linseed Flax, Linseed oil, Lint bells, Linum, Vlas, Winterlein.


Analgesic, anti-estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, demulcent, emollient, expectorant, laxative, nervine, pectoral, purgative, resolvent.

Indicated for:

Acne, ageing, angina, arthritis and joint inflammation, back pain, bacteria, fungi, and viruses, cancer prevention, cataracts, chronic pain, cold sores, constipation, Crohn's disease, diverticular disorders, eczema, endometriosis, fatigue, gallstones, gout, hair problems, heart disease prevention, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and clogged arteries, impotence, infertility (male & female), kidney stones, lupus, menopause, multiple sclerosis, nail problems, osteoporosis, parkinson's disease, perimenopause, prostate problems, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles, skin health, stroke, sunburn.

Notes / Cautions:

Flaxseed oil is also called linseed oil. The industrial types of linseed oil found in hardware stores are not for internal consumption. They may contain poisonous additives.

Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus and men with prostate cancer should avoid taking flaxseed products without prior consultation with a doctor.

Flaxseed can block the esophagus or parts of the intestinal tract. Therefore individuals who have had esophageal or intestinal blockages should not use flaxseed.

Side effects associated with taking flaxseed are gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea, gas, nausea, and stomach pain. Allergic reactions have been reported by individuals who took flaxseed or flaxseed oil.

In case studies, flaxseed oil has been reported to increase the time that blood needs to clot. When it is taken with antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs, the effect of the drug may be increased, resulting in uncontrolled bleeding. Antiplatelets include Plavix and Ticlid. Anticoagulants include aspirin, heparin and warfarin. Other herbs that also affect blood clotting time, and should therefore be used together with this in mind, are: Danshen (Red Sage), Devil's Claw, Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo, Ginseng, Horse Chestnut, Papain and Red Clover or Saw Palmetto.

Important: Click Here to Read Our Disclaimer

Used This Herb? How Would You Rate It?

Current User Rating 7.3/10 Based On 423 Votes

Has Flaxseed Oil Worked For You?

This page is not a wiki so it is not editable like Wikipedia, however we would like to hear your information and comments and sometimes incorporate these into the articles.

Click Here To Post a Comment
Susan 's avatar  Susan 02/03/2015 04:01

Attn: Jos...I had the same problem several years ago. I had a tumor on my thyroid and when the test came back all it said was suspicious for cancer. Thyroid cancer if difficult to diagnose until it is surgically removed and then tested. I chose to treat it with alternative methods rather than remove it. I wnt on the Budwig diet and also tryied a cancer diet of raw vegetable and fuit along with carrot juicing. I eventually got ride of the tumor. But I continue the Budwig diet (cottage cheese and flax seed oil) along with trying to eat mostly raw vegetables and fruit to make sure it didn't come back. I started using the mixture through out the day often for each meal and I think I must have been eating too much of the oil. I started bleeding not realizing it was the oil. This is a difficult diet to stick with especially when you cook for a family who are fried meat and starch eaters so I was off an on it. I went to the doctor and didn't even think to tell her about the oil, she couldn't find anything wrong with me and ended up have to do a routine surgery which helped. It would start up again every so often but not as bad and then I finally realized it did it whenever I managed to get on my diet. I googled it and found several references it to increased or irregular bleeding. As yet I haven't found out why but I suspect I was just taking too much. One article said that you may need to build up slowly. I was taking like three tablespoons at breakfast, lunch and dinner...using it as a salad dressing and dip for raw veggies. So you aren't the only one this has happen to but the first I ran across besides me.

Brad 's avatar  Brad 02/09/2014 03:09

have found that Golden Flax Seed Oil to be very beneficial. I Recently taken classes in Psychoneuroimmunology which the key to combat or overcome illness is elimination of inflammation. According to science this is where all focus is being centered.

Golden Flax Seed has tremendous benefits in this area from my own research. However, one should drink plenty of water while taking fax seed oil.

How this oil is extracted from the seeds will be the key. From what we learned was all liquids or oils should be consumed at room temperature because they stimulate the immune system verse cold consumption. When taken cold the digestion slows down making it harder to process.

I have found that the lipids around the cells in our bodies are composed of oils besides fats. When a person consumes purely pressed oils they do exchange out the existing oils around lipids. It's like an oil change which enables an enormous health exchange the cells previously had before. Until the new oils cone in, the cells hold the existing oils which can be compromised therefore cells not communicating or allowing vital nutrition process.

It all comes down to buying right quality oils from respected companies and how they extract oil from the actual seeds. There are other essential oils besides Flax Seed out bodies could benefit from however this should be one of the foundational oils first used.

I have taken Golden Flax Seed oil nearly three weeks which the areas of pain appear to be decreasing. Thanks to God!

2 people liked this.
Ruth 's avatar  Ruth 03/09/2013 23:07

I have Interstitial cystitis which is not like an ordinary bladder infection. It's a breaking down of the bladder wall itself. It is of utmost importance to keep my body Ph balanced. I discovered that flaxseed oil does this very well. It also seems to help soothe the bladder wall itself, reducing pain. I also have severe fibromyalgia and the flaxseed helps with the inflammation and pain associated with it. It has helped me more than any of the very many drugs that have been prescribed to me to deal with these conditions.

1 person liked this.
Sibraa 's avatar  Sibraa 21/01/2012 03:22

I've taken flaxseed oil on and off for approx 20 years, the best way to take it is a spoonful with a little hot water and lemon chaser. Also if you have never taken it before, it is best to start with a small dose, like a tea spoon a day for a few days/ week, then build up to what ever amount you need or want to take. The reason for this is the first thing it does is cleanse or detox your kidneys and liver, so if you have any toxins at all, it will make you feel a little nauseous at first if you take too much to begin with, so build up over 2 weeks or so. I did have some fabulous research from Europe but can't seem to find it and it had the symptom and how many days it took for flaxseed oil to regulate or fix the problem, I do have a lot of knowledge about this and would recommend to anyone and everyone from depression to cancer. Great natural product!

3 people liked this.
Jessica 's avatar  Jessica 30/10/2014 00:02

I just started taking flax seed oil. When will I start seeing results?

Jos 's avatar  Jos 29/08/2014 01:25

took flax seed meal for months. I had become ill so took more. I had vaginal bleeding although i'm past menopause plus infections. Eventually i was told to go off all natural or other medications and hospitalized for a curette. Still specialist and doctors could not find anything wrong. In recovery i took no supplements. Eventually it cleared cup after a year. So i started up the flaxseed again. Again i started to bleed. It was definitely the flaxseed.

View All Flaxseed Oil Reviews and Comments