18 Flaxseed Oil Benefits & Side Effects, Dosage
When it comes to flaxseed oil, health benefits abound.
Today we will be looking at flaxseed oil and all it has to offer you on your journey to wellness, but first let’s learn a bit more about this health boosting ingredient.
What is Flaxseed Oil
When flaxseeds are ground down and pressure is applied, the liquid that is expelled is flaxseed oil (also known as linseed oil). What’s the big deal with flaxseed, though?
Flaxseed comes from the Linum usitatissimum plant.
The Latin word usitatissimum means “the most useful”, and the flax plant has proven that it is one of the most useful plants.
It has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
In ancient Sumerian and Akkadian texts there are mentions of how flaxseed and its derivatives were used to treat various ailments.
Some specific things mentioned are using the flaxseed with honey to treat coughs, to help inflammation in the mucus membranes, as an astringent and as a poultice, as well as many uses where it was applied in various bodily openings to treat disorders (1).
The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote De Materia Medica which for centuries was the most important source of medical information in the Roman Empire.
In his writings, Dioscorides described that among many of their medicinal uses, flaxseeds were beneficial for dispersing and softening inflammations both internal and external (2).
History also shows that flaxseeds have been consumed as part of the human diet for thousands of years.
In Greco-Roman history, flax was grown mainly as use for linens (3), but the seeds were a great byproduct of this crop.
A Roman author and philosopher, Pliny the Elder recorded that peasants would roast the flaxseed and eat it in a sweet dish (4).
Today flax is cultivated mainly in the United States and Canada, and it is grown mostly for its seeds.
When harvested, flaxseeds can be ground into a meal that can be used in cooking or they can be pressed into two different types of oil.
Linseed oil is used for feeding livestock and in woodworking and machinery whereas flaxseed oil is useful as a nutritional supplement.
Flaxseeds can be either brown or yellow and are often used interchangeably.
The taste of flaxseed oil is a mix of sweet and bitter, with a nutty undertone, meaning you won’t have to choke it down.
The benefits of adding flaxseed oil to your diet are numerous, but many people are not aware of them.
Keep reading to learn more about this oil and all the benefits it can provide for you.
18 Flaxseed Oil Benefits
The following are 18 health benefits of flaxseed oil:
1. Nutritional Profile of Flaxseed Oil
When consuming flaxseed oil, you can expect to benefit in numerous ways which we will discuss in a few moments.
One tablespoon (15ml) of flaxseed oil can give you (5):
- 120 calories
- 0.01g protein
- 13.6 g fat
- 9.227 g polyunsaturated fat
- 0.06 g vitamin E
- 1.3 g vitamin K
Flaxseed oil is a rich source of lignans.
Lignans are polyphenols that can be found in plants, and the richest dietary source of lignan precursors are flaxseeds (6).
Rather than eating them whole, flaxseeds provide the most lignan benefit when they are crushed or milled, like when they are pressed to make flaxseed oil (7).
As your body digests the lignan precursors, they encounter the bacteria in your intestines and are converted into enterodiol and enterolactone (8).
In Western diets the most common source of phytoestrogens is lignans like those found in flaxseeds and their oil (9).
Flaxseeds are good plant sources for omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of flaxseed oil provides 7196mg of omega 3 fatty acids (10).
The omega-3 from flaxseed oil consists between 50% and 60% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
When compared to whole flaxseed and milled flaxseed, the scientists doing the study found that your body can better use alpha-linolenic acid when it is consumed in oil form (11).
Once the ALA is in your body it is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are unsaturated fatty acids that are vital to brain health (12) among other benefits.
2. Benefits of Fatty Acids in Flaxseed Oil
You now know that flaxseed oil is a rich source of the omega-3 fatty acid, specifically alpha-linolenic acid.
There is also omega-6 in flaxseed oil; one tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 1715mg of omega-6 (10).
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for helping to balance your immune system (13), developing the fibers of muscles and helping them to grow stronger (14), and helping to alleviate the discomfort and pain of some skin problems (15).
You must consume both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids through your diet, as your body cannot create them for itself.
The recommended balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is at least 1:4 (17).
Unfortunately, the majority of people in the world who consume a Western diet have a ratio closer to 1:15 (18).
While it can be easy to get more than enough omega-6 in your diet, it can be difficult to get enough omega-3 fatty acids especially if you are not eating enough fish (19).
When you knock the balance out of place by consuming too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3, it is detrimental to your health.
Too much omega-6 can raise your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and can cause inflammatory diseases to flare up (16).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil can provide a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids which can boost your health, help prevent health problems, and assist your body in better performing internal functions.
3. Flaxseed Oil Could Help Lower Blood Pressure
According to the American Heart Association, over 100 million adults in the United States have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and almost one third of the world’s adult population lives with this disease (20).
Having high blood pressure for a long period of time leads to a cascade of health problems that damage many body systems and organs including your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys and eyes, and it also leads to sexual dysfunction (21).
Studies have shown that flaxseed oil can have benefits on your heart health – specifically in lowering your blood pressure.
Researchers performed a meta-analysis review of 15 medical studies pertaining to flaxseed supplements on blood pressure that had been conducted with 1302 participants.
The review concluded that flaxseed products including flaxseed oil had resulted in significant reductions in blood pressure among the participants in the studies (22).
As you grow older, your arterial compliance (the elasticity in your arteries) tends to decrease. This is compounded by high blood pressure.
Low arterial elasticity inhibits proper function of your circulatory system and increases your risk of heart disease (23).
In one study 15 patients had their diets supplemented for four weeks with 20gm of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that was in margarine made from flaxseed oil.
After the four weeks the patients experienced a marked increase in arterial compliance.
They concluded that the ALA found in the flaxseed oil resulted in a rapid improvement in the patient’s arterial circulation (24).
In another study the effects of safflower oil (which is rich in omega-6 fatty acids) were compared to the effects found in omega-3 rich flaxseed oil.
Over 12 weeks the 59 men who participated in the study were given daily supplementation of one tablespoon of either flaxseed oil or safflower oil.
At the end of the study the men who had been given the flaxseed oil experienced significantly lower blood pressure levels compared to the men that had been given safflower oil (25).
KEY POINT: Studies have shown the flaxseed oil can reduce blood pressure.
The ALA omega-3’s found in flaxseed oil can improve arterial compliance and work to lower the risk of hypertension.
4. Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Your Cholesterol
There is much debate over whether having high levels of cholesterol is inherently dangerous.
In fact, several recent studies have called this thought into question (26).
When your cholesterol is sent to the laboratory for testing, your doctor is looking for your levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (good) and LDL cholesterol (bad).
The cholesterol ratio is found when your total cholesterol is divided by your HDL cholesterol.
Your cholesterol ratio is the number that helps your doctor to determine whether you are at high risk for heart disease (27).
If your cholesterol ratio is high, you are at a higher risk for developing heart disease (28) and you need to find ways to lower your ratio.
Scientists reviewed 28 studies that had been done to determine the effects of flaxseed products on cholesterol levels.
They concluded that flaxseed products including flaxseed oil helped to significantly reduce total cholesterol levels as well as LDL cholesterol levels in the blood (29).
A 90 day study was conducted on 110 adults to determine the effects of linseed (flaxseed) oil on blood cholesterol levels.
Half of the participants were placed on a low saturated fat diet, and half received daily supplementation of 3g of linseed oil.
At the end of the study, participants that were receiving the linseed oil had a greater reduction in total cholesterol as well as LDL cholesterol, and their levels of HDL increased, thus improving their cholesterol ratio (30).
In patients that already had heart disease and were already on cholesterol lowering medications, a year long study looked at how flaxseed products would affect cholesterol levels.
At the end of the study the patients had lower levels of LDL and total cholesterol.
When used in conjunction with cholesterol lowering medications, the patients using flaxseed products experienced even better results (31).
The phyto-estrogenic lignans found in flaxseed were tested in a study comprised of 55 patients with high cholesterol.
Participants were given a placebo or 300mg or 600mg of flaxseed extract products over the course of eight weeks.
At the end of the study, the flaxseed extract treatment had lowered plasma cholesterol, though the amount lowered was dependent on the dose that was administered to the person (32).
KEY POINT: A number of studies have been done on flaxseed oil and other products and their role in reducing cholesterol.
Flaxseed products have repeatedly shown to lower LDL cholesterol and improve cholesterol ratios, reducing the risk of heart disease.
5. Flaxseed Oil Can Help Prevent Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects the lives of over 30 million American adults and children, and it is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (33).
Many people are at risk for developing diabetes.
The disease can lead to problems with your eyes, your feet and kidneys, issues with neuropathy, as well as dental problems and sexual dysfunction.
Diabetes can also result is cardiovascular problems and stroke (34).
Women who live with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) are at a higher risk for developing diabetes due to their higher levels of glucose and insulin.
Researchers conducted a 12 week study on 60 women with PCOS to evaluate the effects of flaxseed oil on the metabolic status of the patients.
At the end of the study it was determined that the women who received the flaxseed oil experienced lower levels of insulin in their blood (35).
Another study measured the insulin resistance of 62 people who were given instructions to consume specific wheat or flaxseed products for ten weeks.
At the end of the study, those people who had consumed the products containing flaxseed showed better levels of insulin sensitivity (36).
This is important because higher levels of insulin resistance lead to diabetes (37).
73 Chinese patients with diabetes underwent a 12 week study to determine the effect lignan supplements derived from flaxseed would have on their blood glucose levels.
The people doing the research concluded that the flaxseed-derived lignans were effective in improving glycemic control and lowering the measurement of blood glucose levels (38).
In patients with prediabetes, it is important to help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
One study looked at 25 obese patients with prediabetes in order to determine if flaxseed affected their glycemic control.
After eating flaxseed products daily for 12 weeks, the study participants experienced a significant improvement in glucose control (39).
KEY POINT: Diabetes is a chronic condition that can lead to more destruction of health.
Flaxseed oil has proven to be beneficial in the fight against diabetes and could be useful in lowering your risk of developing the disease.
6. Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Bowel Health
From diarrhea to chronic constipation to irritable bowel syndrome, many people live with varying types of digestive health issues that impact their bowel health.
There are many reasons you might experience diarrhea, though it is usually brought on by an illness of some sort.
When you have diarrhea, you can quickly become dehydrated and will rapidly lose necessary bodily fluids.
It is important to stop the diarrhea from happening (40), and flaxseed oil can help with this.
In a 2015 study, researchers induced diarrhea using castor oil, then treated the diarrhea with oral administration of flaxseed oil.
The flaxseed oil treatment reduced the diarrhea by between 49 and 84 percent in the test subjects.
It is believed that the flaxseed oil worked in tandem with the potassium channels to relieve the diarrhea (41).
Though everyone has different bowel habits, constipation is not normal and should be treated before it results in pain and additional health problems (42).
Several studies have shown the effectiveness of flaxseed oil in the treatment of constipation.
The previously mentioned study found that not only is flaxseed oil beneficial in treating diarrhea, it is also useful in the treatment of constipation.
When administered orally, the people carrying out the testing found that the flaxseed oil acted as a laxative, thus alleviating the constipation in the test subjects (41).
In one study researchers found that liquid flax products had several benefits, including increasing the fecal excretion of the study participants by between 23 and 50 percent (43).
Another study followed 50 patients suffering with constipation for four weeks. To treat the constipation the patients were given mineral oil, olive oil or flaxseed oil and instructed to take 4mL a day.
Only the patients taking the flaxseed oil experienced an improvement in the consistency of their stools as well as increased regularity (44).
When researching treatments for irritable bowel syndrome, scientists piloted a study to determine the effectiveness of linseed (flaxseed) products in treating the symptoms of the syndrome.
Over a four-week period, 40 patients ingested products containing linseed.
Though more research is needed, the scientists concluded that linseed may be useful in the treatment of IBS symptoms by lowering inflammation (45).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed Oil has proven itself useful in treating multiple digestive and bowel issues.
It can be used as an antidiarrheal, it can help you to be more regular and it may be useful in treating IBS symptoms.
7. Flaxseed Oil Could Improve Symptoms Of Pediatric Behavioral And Mental Health
As of 2016 it is estimated that around five percent of children in the United States have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD (46).
Children with this disorder have many struggles in social situations and tend to need help in their education.
Much research has gone into methods of reducing the symptoms of ADHD, and recent studies have shown promise with natural treatments such as the use of flaxseed oil.
More studies need to be done, but there is promise in using foods and oils high in omega-3 fatty acids to help alleviate some symptoms of ADHD.
The alpha linolenic acid that is part of the omega-3 family is found in flaxseed oil, and this specific omega-3 fatty acid has been tied to improved brain function and development (47).
In a study, 30 children who had been diagnosed with ADHD were supplemented with flaxseed oil and vitamin C.
At the completion of the study the children had experienced an improvement in their symptoms and were less restless, able to focus better and had more self-control.
The researchers attributed theses changes to the alpha linolenic acid in the flaxseed oil (48).
In one 16 week study, researchers spent time studying the effects of flaxseed oil on the symptoms of bipolar disorder in children.
The flaxseed oil was found to increase both the DHA and EPA levels in the children’s serum.
The analysts determined that supplementing the children with fatty acids like those found in flaxseed oil was beneficial in reducing the severity of bipolar disorder symptoms in children and adolescents (49).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil has been found to be beneficial in treating some behavioral and mental health disorders in children.
This is believed to be due to the essential fatty acids found in the flaxseed oil.
8. Flaxseed Oil Helps Asthma Sufferers And Protects The Lungs
People who live with asthma are plagued by a tight chest, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.
In recent years there have been many studies pointing to the usefulness of omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in high amounts in flaxseed oil) for the treatment of asthma.
In a case controlled study that followed 47 asthmatic patients, researchers looked at the role of essential fatty acid intake and inflammatory markers for asthma.
When comparing the control group to the asthmatic group the testers found that the patients with asthma had a far lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids and a higher measure of other inflammatory factors.
The study concluded that omega-3 fatty acids seem to have a protective role against asthma (50).
Another study reasons that asthma is so prevalent in western society because of their high inflammatory diet.
The scientists point out that further studies should be completed, but suggest that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids like those found in flaxseed oil could be a viable option for treatment of hyperresponsive airways like those of asthmatic patients (51).
Other studies reference the omega-3 fatty acids found in flaxseed oil as a benefit to people living with asthma and other respiratory diseases.
One researcher points out the benefits of flaxseed products when used in treating several respiratory problems such as COPD, asthma and exercise induced asthma, upper respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis and other illnesses.
This is especially effective when the flaxseed products are used in conjunction with other homeopathic remedies like such as vitamin C, and bromelain (52).
Further studies are warranted to determine the effectiveness of omega-3 rich treatments on other pulmonary syndromes and respiratory diseases (53).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been found to be beneficial in the treatment of asthma and other respiratory disorders.
Supplementation with flaxseed oil could improve your asthma symptoms and relieve some other pulmonary problems.
9. Flaxseed Oil Could Reduce The Appearance Of Cellulite
Up to 90 percent of women who have gone through puberty will find that they have cellulite which appears as dimpled skin found mainly on the thighs and buttocks (54).
Even though cellulite is a common cosmetic issue in women (and some men), it is still something that can be embarrassing to those who live with it.
No one is entirely sure what causes the cottage-cheese texture to form (55), though there are many theories. It may be only an aesthetic problem, but scientists have taken up the cause in recent years and are trying to learn more about cellulite (56).
Research has found that one of the things that increases the appearance of cellulite is the thickness of the skin. If you have thin skin, cellulite is likely to be more visible (57).
The thinning of your skin is caused by the loss of collagen fibers as you age.
Dermatologists have said that our skin loses about one percent of its collagen every single year after the age of 20 (58), but is there anything that can be done about that?
Flaxseed oil has several biologically active compounds that can help repair your skin by helping with collagen production.
The flavonoids found in this oil help to strengthen collagen fibers and the fatty acids and triglycerides help to keep your skin hydrated.
In addition, certain essential amino acids found in flaxseed oil (arginine, BCAA and glutamine) help to restore the synthesis of collagen in the skin (59).
All of this keeps your skin from thinning out and helps it to remain supple so that cellulite is less noticeable.
KEY POINT: Biological compounds found in flaxseed oil work to reduce the appearance of cellulite by restoring and improving your skin.
Flaxseed oil keeps your skin hydrated, increases collagen production and strengthens collagen fibers that are already present
10. Flaxseed Oil Is Useful In Managing Eczema
People who suffer with eczema experience a medical condition where areas of their skin becomes inflamed and rough sometimes developing itchy, painful blisters.
Occasionally this is a reaction to something external, but often eczema has no apparent cause.
Eczema can be painful, but it is almost always uncomfortable (60).
Studies show that low levels of key nutrients directly contribute to some of these symptoms, like dry itchy skin.
A deficiency in alpha linolenic acid resulted in patients having poor skin health, but this was helped by treatment with ALA-rich foods.
In all of the test subjects a two to four week treatment regimen of an increase in omega-3 acids normalized the health of their skin (61).
Adding flaxseed oil to your diet can increase your levels of ALA, thus improving your skin health.
The fatty acids found in flaxseed oil work to decrease inflammation in your skin and help to promote the regeneration of skin cells (62).
To reduce the areas of skin covered in rashes as well as to heal wounds caused by scratching and irritated skin, flaxseed products have proven effective in both animal and human studies.
The flaxseed products work to heal and remodel skin cells (62).
This is thought to be the result of flaxseed oil lowering the levels of saturated fatty acid found in skin cells (63).
Eczema sufferers often live with skin that is hypersensitive and prone to feeling rough and scaly. In one 12 week study researchers supplemented 13 women with either safflower seed oil or flaxseed oil.
Though both groups of women saw improvement in the moisture and softness of their skin, only the group being supplemented with flaxseed oil had long term benefits (64) in the health of their skin.
Yet another study looked at the effects of flaxseed oil on treating unfavorable skin conditions that can be brought on by eczema.
45 women were given flaxseed or borage oil over a 12 week period and at the end of the study the roughness and redness of their skin had improved.
Additionally, loss of hydration saw a 10% decrease (65).
KEY POINT: Using flaxseed oil can improve the symptoms of eczema.
Scientists believe the fatty acids help to improve moisture content while decreasing inflammation, itchiness and redness.
Flaxseed oil can be beneficial to overall skin health but is exceptionally useful in the treatment of eczema.
11. Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Menopause Symptoms And Other Hormonal Issues In Women
As women age they go through massive hormonal changes which bring on unpleasant symptoms.
During menopause some of the most common and complained about symptoms arenight sweats and hot flashes(66).
A 2007 study that spanned six weeks followed 28 participants as they were administered 40g of crushed flaxseed each day.
At the end of the study the women had experienced a 62% decrease in hot flashes, going from 7.3 hot flashes a day to 3.6 a day (67).
Another study was done with 140 menopausal women in 2015.
A university hospital’s OBGYN department treated the women with flaxseed for 3 months.
At the end of the treatment period it was found that the women experienced not only a decrease in their menopause symptoms but an increase in their quality of life (68).
In the time leading up to their menstrual cycle, many women experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS.
This can include mood swings, painful cramping, headaches and other issues (69).
It is believed that one of the causes of PMS is an overproduction of prolactin in the later phases of the menstrual cycle (70).
The essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil can be beneficial in reducing the symptoms experienced during PMS. Prostaglandin E1 is derived from essential fatty acids and it can help to reduce the effects of prolactin in the body.
In three separate studies women were treated with essential fatty acids and in each study the symptoms such as irritability, fluid retention and breast tenderness were greatly reduced (71).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil can help to alleviate the symptoms brought on by hormonal changes throughout a woman’s life.
The essential fatty acids are beneficial for lessening pain and discomfort during PMS, and other components can reduce the severity of hot flashes experienced during menopause.
12. Flaxseed Oil Can Improve Nerve Damage
There are two main parts to the body’s nervous system – the central nervous system (CNS) which comprises the brain and the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) which is made of all the nerves connecting the CNS to the rest of the body.
It is usually clear if there is damage to the central nervous system, as this type of damage tends to stem from an injury to the brain or spinal cord.
Less obvious, but just as problematic is damage to the peripheral nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy can be the result of many things, including (72):
- Auto-immune diseases
- Exposure to chemicals
- Inherited disorders and diseases
- Chemo-induced neuropathy
When someone experiences peripheral neuropathy, they can have pain, numbness or tingling in their extremities such as hands and their feet.
This sensation can make life difficult for those who live with this problem.
One 48-week animal study sought to find if dietary oils containing essential fatty acids could play any role in peripheral neuropathy.
At the conclusion of the study it was determined that the alpha-linolenic acid found in flaxseed oil can improve the function of the vascular and nervous systems (73).
We covered the fact that flaxseed oil is high in omega-3.
In multiple cases this essential fatty acid has demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of neuropathic pain experienced by people (74).
Another animal study that was performed on mice found that omega-3 fatty acids are useful in the prevention and treatment of peripheral nerve damage, especially when it stems from injury (75).
KEY POINT: The omega-3 fatty acids that are found in high quantities in flaxseed oil have proven to be effective in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy.
Flaxseed oil also contains compounds that can prevent and treat neuropathic pain.
13. Flaxseed Oil Might Decrease Inflammation In The Body
Inflammation in the human body is a natural response to injury, wounds and infection.
Your body wouldn’t be able to properly heal without inflammation, but sometimes the inflammation is uncontrolled and doesn’t fade away as intended.
When inflammation becomes chronic it can lead to a plethora of conditions and diseases like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, asthma etc.
Preventing chronic inflammation and treating it once it occurs is something that is getting a lot of evaluation by scientists, doctors and researchers.
There are many facets to inflammation, and as of yet there is not one single treatment option that stands out from the rest, but there are many that show promise.
A meta-analysis of 17 different studies was evaluated to determine if omega-3 fatty acids had an effect on joint pain associated with inflammatory diseases like dysmenorrhea, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
After reviewing all of these studies it was found that people who supplemented their diets with omega-3 for at least 3 months experienced an improvement in their joint pain (76).
An animal study evaluated aspirin versus flaxseed oil for the treatment of inflammation.
The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in the flaxseed oil contributed to the reduction of inflammation markers like bradykinin, histamine, prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4.
The conclusion is that flaxseed oil has many properties that make it anti-inflammatory (77).
One chemical that is measured as a marker of inflammation in the body is C-reactive protein.
An evaluation of 20 studies revealed that in the general population, flaxseed oil doesn’t seem to have an affect on the measure of c-reactive protein.
However when evaluating the population of obese individuals, flaxseed oil supplementation did significantly reduce the measure of C-reactive protein (78).
100 patients who had carpal tunnel syndrome were treated with topical treatment of flaxseed oil over a four-week period.
At the end of the period, the patients reported that they had less pain and inflammation and an overall improvement in their symptoms (79).
KEY POINT: Chronic inflammation can make everyday life painful, but flaxseed oil can help.
The omega-3 found in flaxseed oil helps to reduce pain, reduces inflammation markers in the blood and can be used topically as treatment for pain and inflammation.
14. Flaxseed Oil Is Useful In Treating Symptoms Of Sjogren’s Syndrome
Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that has an effect on the entire body.
Symptoms of this disorder include lymphomas, neuropathy, excessive fatigue and chronic pain.
The most common symptom of Sjogren’s is the extreme dryness, felt most often in the eyes and the mouth (80).
In a 2007 study, researchers evaluated 38 women who have Sjogren’s syndrome to determine if flaxseed oil could have any effect on the dry eyes experienced with the disorder.
Over 180 days the women were instructed to orally take a capsule containing one or two grams of flaxseed oil every day.
At the completion of the study, the dryness and inflammation was reduced and the women experienced better comfort with their eyes (81).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil can be beneficial in the treatment of dry eye that is an uncomfortable symptom of Sjogren’s Syndrome.
15. Flaxseed Oil Can Protect Your Brain
As it controls every single mechanism and function, your brain is arguably the most important organ in your body.
Because of this, it is ideal to keep your brain in optimal health. Much research has been done into brain development, health and treatments.
Flaxseed products like flaxseed oil have shown to be beneficial to brain health in multiple ways.
Brain health is negatively impacted by oxidative stress. Ischemia, premature aging of the brain and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease are all issues that can be caused by the imbalance of the formation and detoxification of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) in the brain (82).
To determine what effect flaxseed oil had on the oxidative stress level in rats, researchers performed a study dividing sixty rats into four equal groups and treating half of the rats with flaxseed oil.
After treatment, the rats who had been given flaxseed oil showed improvement in brain neurotransmitters as well as a marked decrease in malondialdehyde (MO) and nitic oxide (NO).
The levels of oxidative stress were much lower in the rats that had been treated with flaxseed oil, and their brains were functioning better (83).
Chemicals such as lead are neurotoxins and they can also lead to oxidative stress in the brain.
In another study performed on rats, lead acetate was administered to the rats in order to study the effect of flaxseed oil on reducing the lead levels in the rats’ brains.
After being treated with flaxseed oil (1,000mg/kg), the rats showed a significant decrease in the levels of lead in their brains indicating that flaxseed oil is beneficial in protecting the brain from oxidative stress and neurotoxicity from lead (84).
Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) is a protein that helps encourage the survival of neurons in the brain by promoting growth, maturation and maintenance of cells (85).
BDNF is important in regulating the flexibility of synapses which is necessary for learning and memory (86).
After suffering an ischemic stroke, people will have reduced serum concentrations of BDNF which can result in a poor prognosis for recovery (87).
Flaxseed oil was given for three weeks as a pre-treatment before the researchers induced an ischemic stroke.
Upon examining the rats, it was determined that the flaxseed oil pre-treatment had increased BDNF levels and provided neuroprotective effects on the brains of the rats during the stroke (88).
In humans, it has been found that the levels of BDNF change with the intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids. 30 healthy volunteers had their blood drawn to find a baseline level of BDNF then were instructed to take 500mg of alpha-linolenic acid (in 3 oral capsules of flaxseed oil) each day for one week.
At the end of the week their blood was analyzed again and their concentrations of BDNF had increased significantly (89).
In order to develop properly, the brains of newborns need essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids like those found in flaxseed oil.
Researchers fed mother rats a diet containing flaxseed oil and then evaluated the newborn pups.
They found higher levels of omega-3 in the brain tissue and had increased brain weight pointing to better brain development as a result of the flaxseed oil in the mother’s diet (90).
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce the convulsions experienced by those who suffer with epileptic seizures (91).
An animal study found that pre-treatment with flaxseed oil could help to lessen the effects of epileptic seizures.
Not only did the flaxseed oil reduce the length of the flexion phase of the seizure, it also helped the convulsions to not last as long (92).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil may offer relief from seizures, strokes and provide improvement in overall brain health.
Right now, most of the studies have been done on animals but they are promising and give hope to human studies.
16. Flaxseed Oil Can Help You Lose Weight
In the nutrition profile above, we showed that flaxseeds are full of many macronutrients and micronutrients that your body needs.
Flaxseed and its products like flaxseed oil are a good source of fiber and healthy fats.
We also discussed that flaxseed and flaxseed oil aid in digestive health, assisting in cases of diarrhea and constipation.
When flaxseed products are ingested they can help to lubricate your colon which can help your body eliminate accumulated waste.
This can result in weight loss and improved health, especially in people with diabetes (93).
A 2015 study followed 27 men and found that adding flaxseed oil to their diet assisted them to lose weight, and it also reduced their inflammation markers like C-reactive protein (94).
The fiber in flaxseed can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time and help you to eat less (95). This can help you to lose unwanted weight.
Fatty tissue in the human body produces a hormone called leptin. When leptin levels are low, your body thinks it is hungry, so your brain signals you to eat more food.
If leptin levels remain low and you begin to overeat, you could become overweight or even obese (96).
A study done on rabbits found that a diet containing flaxseed supplementation increased the rabbits’ leptin production and also helped the rabbits to lose weight.
Additionally, they had less fat buildup in their arteries, promoting better heart health (97).
Women eating a very low-calorie diet were given alpha-linolenic acid in the form of 2g/day of flaxseed oil.
After two to three months the women experienced fat loss (an average of 17.4kg) but maintained healthy levels of omega-3 in their adipose tissue (98).
KEY POINT: Flaxseed oil and the compounds in it can be beneficial to people who are trying to lose weight.
It increases leptin production, reduces inflammation markers, increases satiety and helps you to maintain healthy essential fatty acid levels while losing weight.
17. Flaxseed Oil May Treat Kidney Damage
One common precursor to kidney dysfunction is high blood pressure which is also a major risk factor for heart disease.
Essential fatty acids have shown themselves to be useful in the treatment of high blood pressure, and researchers wanted to determine if they could be helpful in treating kidney damage that was a result of hypertension.
In an 8-week study, rats with high blood pressure were supplemented with flaxseed in their diet.
At the end of the period, the rats were evaluated, and it was determined that the flaxseed had reduced renin, uric acid, creatinine and blood urea nitrogen which are all markers of kidney damage (99).
Flaxseed oil was also studied in relation to kidney function and polycystic kidney damage in rats.
Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil were both evaluated and when it came to protecting against kidney injuries, the ground flaxseed came out ahead (100).
When evaluating the rats with polycystic kidney damage, flaxseed oil was more beneficial in reducing the inflammation markers and preventing excess protein in the urine.
These protective measures were more pronounced in females than they were in male subjects, however (101).
KEY POINT: Kidney health can be affected by several things, but flaxseed oil can be beneficial in protecting your kidneys from damage as well as treating damage.
Many of these benefits are thought to be derived from the alpha-linolenic acid found in flaxseed oil.
18. Flaxseed Oil Could Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Perhaps one of the best benefits of flaxseed oil comes in its well-respected use in the world of cancer treatment and prevention.
Most of the studies that have been performed have been done in the animal world and have yet to make it out of the laboratory, but cancer research is a rapidly moving field.
In flaxseed and flaxseed oil there is a compound called linoorbitides and these are useful as antioxidants.
Scientists are researching whether these antioxidant compounds can use their cytotoxic effects to slow the growth of cancer cells.
Researchers say that further studies in using flax derivatives in therapy regimens for melanoma and breast cancer are warranted (102).
Flaxseed is rich in dietary lignans which act as a phytoestrogen.
When surveying over 6,000 women, a Canadian study found that women who consumed flaxseed products were at lower risk for developing breast cancer (103).
A review of multiple studies determined that supplementation with flaxseed products helped 32 breast cancer patients by reducing the rate of tumor growth.
Flaxseed products are useful in reducing the risk of breast cancer as well as the treatment of breast cancer (104).
The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed oil has been found to be useful in therapy for breast cancer.
Other lab studies have found that flaxseed oil reduces the growth of breast cancer cells.
One 8-week study found that flaxseed reduced the growth and metastasis of human breast cancer cells (107).
Flaxseed oil also demonstrated to be useful in another 8 week study. In that study it also stopped the growth and spread of breast cancer cells (108).
The lignans found in flaxseed also reduced the density and number of fibers in lung cancer cell lines.
In addition, it reduced the number of focal adhesions and decreased the genes necessary for cancer cell growth.
Flaxseed derived lignans might be useful in inhibiting the motility, invasion and metastasis of lung cancer cells (109).
In animal studies, flaxseed oil has proven useful in cancer treatment as well.
In one 40 day study, mice were given .03ml of flaxseed oil and it prevented the growth and spread of lung cancer tumors (110).
Another study followed groups of rats as they were treated with flaxseed oil and it was discovered that the flaxseed oil prevented the formation of colon cancer (111).
KEY POINT: Research in the prevention and treatment of cancer has found that flaxseed products are beneficial.
Flaxseed oil has been shown to reduce growth of cancer cells, prevent the spread of cancer in the body and even kill cancer cells.
Possible Side Effects Of Flaxseed Oil
Be wary of taking flaxseed oil if you are on any medication that acts as a blood thinner.
Omega-3 fatty acids can increase the effectiveness of blood thinners (112).
However, no cases have been reported of bleeding even when taken alongside blood thinners (113).
There maybe intestinal and stomach issues for adults who immediately takes more than 6 grams daily when they initially start flaxseed oil supplementation (114).
People who are allergic to flaxseed should avoid taking flaxseed oil (115).
Never take flaxseed oil if it has expired, because it can become rancid and will make you sick.
Oral consumption of flaxseed oil can be used to achieve the recommended omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 1:5.
Larger amounts may be recommended by health professional to treat certain health conditions.
Flaxseed oil has proven to be a great source for many vital things you need, but you must be careful to not overdo it.
There are not too many known side effects of taking flaxseed oil, but you should always speak with your healthcare provider if you are on any medications as there might be interactions between them and the flaxseed oil.
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