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Overview InformationFlaxseed is the seed from the plant Linum usitatissimum. Flaxseed oil and linseed oil are the oils that come from flaxseed. Linseed oil is usually used in manufacturing, while flaxseed oil is used for nutrition. Flaxseed oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In foods, flaxseed oil is used in salad dressings and in margarines. Flaxseed oil is also used as a medicine.
Flaxseed oil is used for carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetic foot ulcers. It is also used for heart disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis (RA),high levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
How does it work?Flaxseed oil is a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid. The alpha-linolenic acid and related chemicals in flaxseed oil seem to decrease inflammation. That is why flaxseed oil is thought to be useful for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Carpal tunnel syndrome. Research suggests that applying flaxseed oil to the wrist twice daily for 4 weeks improves symptoms and wrist function in people with carpal tunnel syndrome who wear a wrist splint at night.
- Foot sores in people with diabetes. Research shows that taking flaxseed oil twice daily for 12 weeks may help foot ulcers to heal faster in people with diabetes.
Possibly Ineffective for
- Bipolar disorder. Flaxseed oil doesn't seem to improve symptoms of mania or depression in children with bipolar disorder.
- Diabetes. Most research shows that flaxseed oil doesn't lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
- High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Although early research suggested that flaxseed oil might help lower cholesterol, more recent research has not found any benefit.
- Obesity. Research shows that flaxseed oil doesn't reduce body weight in overweight adults.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Taking flaxseed oil daily doesn't seem to improve symptoms of pain and stiffness in people with RA.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). There is some evidence that increasing the amount of linolenic acid in the diet can help to prevent hardening of the arteries. Flaxseed oil contains linolenic acid.
- Athletic performance. Lower-quality research suggests that alpha-linolenic acid, a chemical in flaxseed oil, doesn't improve muscle strength in older adults.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early research suggests that taking flaxseed oil in combination with vitamin C might improve attention, impulsiveness, restlessness, and self-control in children with ADHD.
- Breast cancer. Women who have higher levels of alpha-linolenic acid in their breast tissue seem to be less likely to get breast cancer. Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, so it might protect against breast cancer.
- Burns. Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil with isolated soy protein might improve the healing of mild to moderate burns. But it might take at least 3 weeks before benefit is seen. And it's unclear if the benefit is due to flaxseed oil, isolated soy protein, or the combination.
- Heart disease. Men and women who consume more alpha-linolenic acid in their diet seem to have a reduced risk of having a heart attack. Flaxseed oil is one source of alpha-linolenic acid. It's unclear if flaxseed oil supplements have any benefit.
- Dry eye. Some early research suggests that taking flaxseed oil might reduce irritation and symptoms of dry eyes in people with a condition called Sjögren syndrome. Also, using a specific product containing fish oil plus flaxseed oil (TheraTears Nutrition, Advanced Vision Research) might reduce symptoms of dry eye and increase tear production.
- Dry skin. Some research suggests that taking flaxseed oil by mouth might improve dry skin, but other research doesn't support this.
- Long-term kidney disease (chronic kidney disease or CKD). Swelling (inflammation) can occur in people on hemodialysis for CKD. Taking flaxseed oil might help to decrease this swelling.
- HIV/AIDS. Early research suggests that taking a formula containing arginine, yeast RNA, and alpha-linolenic acid, a chemical in flaxseed oil, improves weight gain, but not immune function in people with HIV.
- High blood pressure. Some research suggests that taking flaxseed oil can reduce blood pressure and the risk of developing high blood pressure. But other research does not support this.
- Parkinson disease. Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil plus vitamin E daily for 12 weeks can improve symptoms of Parkinson disease.
- Pneumonia. Consuming alpha-linolenic acid in the diet seems to be linked to a reduced risk of developing pneumonia.
- A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS). Research suggests that taking flaxseed oil for 6 weeks might lower triglyceride and insulin levels in women with PCOS.
- Prostate cancer. The role of the flaxseed oil ingredient, alpha-linolenic acid, in preventing prostate cancer is unclear. Results from research are conflicting. Some research suggests that high dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid is linked with an increased risk for prostate cancer. Other research suggests high intake or high blood levels of alpha-linolenic acid is not linked with the overall risk of prostate cancer. However, extra alpha-linolenic acid might make existing prostate cancer worse. The source of alpha-linolenic acid appears to be important. Alpha-linolenic acid from dairy and meat sources has been positively linked with prostate cancer. Alpha-linolenic acid from plant sources, such as flaxseed or flaxseed oil, does not affect prostate cancer risk.
- Breast cancer.
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD).
- Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH).
- Swelling (inflammation) of the vagina (vaginitis).
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetyWhen taken by mouth: Flaxseed oil is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth, short-term. Flaxseed oil supplements have been used safely for up to 6 months. Large doses of 30 grams per day and higher can cause loose stools and diarrhea. Some people have experienced allergic reactions while taking flaxseed oil.
When applied to the skin: Flaxseed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied to the skin in the short-term. Flaxseed oil has been used safely on the wrist for up to 4 weeks.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Children: Flaxseed is POSSIBLY SAFE for children when taken by mouth, short-term. Flaxseed oil has been safely taken by mouth for up to 3 months by children about 7-8 years old.
Pregnancy: Flaxseed oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Some research suggests that flaxseed oil might increase the chance of premature birth when taken during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. However, other research suggests that taking flaxseed oil might be safe starting from the second or third trimester and continuing until delivery. Until more is known, pregnant women should avoid taking flaxseed oil.
Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if flaxseed oil is safe to use when breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bleeding disorders: Flaxseed oil might increase the risk of severe bleeding in patients with bleeding disorders. Talk to your healthcare provider before using flaxseed oil if you have a bleeding disorder.
Surgery: Flaxseed oil might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Be cautious with this combination
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with FLAXSEED OIL
Flaxseed oil might slow blood clotting. Taking flaxseed oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.<br /><br /> Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For foot sores in people with diabetes: 1 gram of flaxseed oil twice daily for 12 weeks has been used.
- For carpal tunnel syndrome: 5 drops of flaxseed oil have been applied to the wrist twice daily for 4 weeks.
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- West, S. G., Krick, A. L., Klein, L. C., Zhao, G., Wojtowicz, T. F., McGuiness, M., Bagshaw, D. M., Wagner, P., Ceballos, R. M., Holub, B. J., and Kris-Etherton, P. M. Effects of diets high in walnuts and flax oil on hemodynamic responses to stress and vascular endothelial function. J Am Coll.Nutr 2010;29(6):595-603. View abstract.
- Wojtowicz JC, Butovich I, Uchiyama E, et al. Pilot, prospective, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial of an omega-3 supplement for dry eye. Cornea 2010 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]. View abstract.
- Yari Z, Rahimlou M, Eslamparast T, Ebrahimi-Daryani N, Poustchi H, Hekmatdoost A. Flaxseed supplementation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot randomized, open labeled, controlled study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jun;67(4):461-9. View abstract.
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