Herbwisdom Logo

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, hormonelike 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.

Properties:

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 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

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
Rodger 's avatar  Rodger 26/12/2010 09:23

I have been taking Flax Seed Oil with cottage cheese for cancer treatment. Don't know for sure the out come. You can reach me at rodg_007@yahoo.com

9 people liked this.
mandie 's avatar  mandie 17/11/2010 03:44

awesome just started taking flaxseed oil for about a month now an see a huge difference in my skin nails an hair,yay for flaxseed oil

9 people liked this.
paulo 's avatar  paulo 13/02/2011 04:28

hi everybody, just started taking flaxseed oil, not quite sure how much to take, so started on 3 tablespoons of oil mixed 2 tablespoons cottage cheese fruit yoghurt and muesli. that wont do any harm. any comments or advise please

8 people liked this.
Paulm39083 's avatar  Paulm39083 21/03/2011 19:00

it is interesting to have a look at the studies and conclusions of Dr.Johanna Budwig as it relates to the benefits of flax oil . Her studies were centered around Otto Warburgs findings of the root cause of cancer, she supplimented his studies by searching for a method to help the body absorb the nutrients in flax oil at the cellular level, she accomplished a great deal and the results of her studies has saved many from a long and painful battle with cancer.. search for more information

7 people liked this.
MarciaM 's avatar  MarciaM 24/01/2011 02:42

I am currently undergoing breast cancer treatment and began taking flax seed oil with cottage cheese. I also discovered that the flax seed oil benefits me because I had seizures related to menopause; which then resulted in being put on hormones. The hormones then unfortunately caused breast cancer. But the upside is that the flax seed oil ended most of the seizures; which were very minor. As well read about Dr. Budwig's diet developed in Germany. She cured many people naturally from her diet everything from heart disease to cancer. And she cured incurable cancer. Flax seed oil is a great thing! I feel better and am able to tolerate the treatments more easily now. If you want to prevent cancer diabetes and heart disease or treat menopause without hot flashes give it a try.

7 people liked this.
Bigfan2151 's avatar  Bigfan2151 08/04/2011 19:50

I have been adding flax seed oil to my german shepherds food twice a day for the last month. Every spring he starts scratching from his very dry skin. The groomer recommended flax seed oil added to his food so I do this every spring. The scratching has subsided considerably. I have also notice he seems to be moving better and running faster than his normal speed for his size and age so I'm guessing it is also lubricating his joints. I buy the tablets and puncture them with a tack and then sqeeze it on his food. Once the weather warms up and he is swimming on a regular basis his skin is never dry. Im going to start taking the flax seed oil tablets myself to see if it helps to lubricate my joints.

2 people liked this.
View All Flaxseed Oil Reviews and Comments