FLAXSEED OIL

OTHER NAME(S):

Aceite de Linaza, Acide Alpha-Linolénique, Acide Gras Oméga 3, Acide Gras N-3, ALA, Aliviraaii, Alpha-Linolenic Acid, Alasi, Brown Flaxseed Oil, Brown-Seeded Flax Oil, Common Flax Oil, Echter Lein, Flachs, Flachssamen, Flax Oil, Flax Seed Oil, Golden Flax Oil, Graine de Lin, Huile de Lin, Kattan, Keten, Lin, Lin Commun, Lin Oléagineux, Linho, Lino, Lino Comune, Lino Mazzese, Lino Usuale, Linseed Flax Oil, Linseed Oil, Linum crepitans, Linum humile, Linum usitatissimum, Malsag, N-3 Fatty Acid, Oil of Flaxseed, Omega-3 Fatty Acid, Saatlein, Ta Ma, Tisii.

Overview

Overview Information

Flaxseed 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, diabetic foot ulcers, and dry eye. 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

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • 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.
  • Dry eye. Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil by mouth might reduce irritation and symptoms of dry eyes in people with a condition called Sjögren syndrome. Taking a specific product containing fish oil plus flaxseed oil by mouth might reduce symptoms of dry eye and increase tear production. Using eye drops that contain flaxseed oil may help reduce certain symptoms of dry eye in some, but not all, people.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Bipolar disorder. Flaxseed oil doesn't seem to improve symptoms of mania or depression in children with bipolar disorder.
  • 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). Flaxseed oil contains linolenic acid. People who get more linolenic acid in their diet seem to have a lower risk of atherosclerosis. Some small studies also show that taking flaxseed oil by mouth helps reduce blood pressure and some types of fats in the blood of people with atherosclerosis. But any benefit is probably small.
  • 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.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. Applying flaxseed oil to the wrist twice daily for 4 weeks seems to improve symptoms and wrist function in people with carpal tunnel syndrome who wear a wrist splint at night. But it's unclear if the improvement persists long-term. It's also unclear how flaxseed oil compares to other standard treatments for carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • 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.
  • Diabetes. Most research shows that flaxseed oil doesn't lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. But it might lower blood sugar in women with pregnancy-related diabetes.
  • Dry skin. Some research shows that taking flaxseed oil by mouth might improve dry skin. But not all research agrees.
  • Abnormal thickening of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia). Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil doesn't help to reverse the thickening of the lining of the uterus. But it might help to lower blood sugar in women with an abnormal thickening.
  • 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.
  • A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil by mouth doesn't prevent abnormal blood clotting in people with metabolic syndrome.
  • Build up of fat in the liver in people who drink little or no alcohol (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD). Taking flaxseed oil by mouth might improve liver health in people with NAFLD. But it doesn't help with other symptoms.
  • 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.
  • A type of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Early research shows that taking flaxseed oil may reduce swelling in the bowel in people with ulcerative colitis.
  • Anxiety.
  • Constipation.
  • Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH).
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Swelling (inflammation) of the vagina (vaginitis).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate flaxseed oil for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Flaxseed oil is LIKELY SAFEfor most adults when taken by mouth, short-term. Supplements containing 2 grams of flaxseed oil have been used safely for up to 6 months. Higher doses of up to 24 grams daily have also been used safely for up to 7 weeks. But larger doses can cause side effects such as 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.

When applied into the eye: Flaxseed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when applied into the eye short-term. Eye drops containing flaxseed oil have been used safely for up to 3 months. Redness and itching may occur in some people.

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 SAFE when taken by mouth in doses of up to 2 grams daily for up to 6 weeks during pregnancy. But use of flaxseed oil has been linked with an increased chance of premature birth when taken during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy.

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.

Interactions

Interactions?

Moderate Interaction

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.

    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.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For foot sores in people with diabetes: 1 gram of flaxseed oil twice daily for 12 weeks has been used.
  • For dry eye: 1-2 grams flaxseed oil daily for up to 6 months has been used.
APPLIED INTO THE EYE:
  • For dry eye: Eye drops containing flaxseed oil have been applied into the eye twice daily for 90 days.

View References

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  • Taylor, C. G., Noto, A. D., Stringer, D. M., Froese, S., and Malcolmson, L. Dietary milled flaxseed and flaxseed oil improve N-3 fatty acid status and do not affect glycemic control in individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. J Am Coll Nutr 2010;29(1):72-80. View abstract.
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  • University of Montreal. Pregnant Women Consuming Flaxseed Oil Have High Risk Of Premature Birth.ScienceDaily, October 29, 2008. Available at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081027140817.htm (Accessed May 14, 2009).
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  • 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.
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