Overview

Flax is a food and fiber crop that came from Southern Europe and Asia. Flaxseeds are the golden yellow to reddish brown seeds of flax. These seeds contain phytoestrogens, which are similar to the hormone estrogen. The seeds also contain soluble fiber and oil. Flaxseed oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed has been eaten as a food or used as a medicine since 5000 BC.

Flaxseed is used for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, breast pain (mastalgia), and swelling (inflammation) of the kidneys in people with lupus. It is also used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses.

How does it work ?

Flaxseed is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The fiber in flaxseed is found primarily in the seed coat. Taken before a meal, flaxseed fiber seems to make people feel less hungry, so that they might eat less food. Researchers believe this fiber binds with cholesterol in the intestine and prevents it from being absorbed. Flaxseed also seems to make platelets, the blood cells involved in clotting, less sticky. Overall, flaxseed’s effects on cholesterol and blood clotting may lower the risk of “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).

Flaxseed is sometimes tried for cancer because it is broken down by the body into chemicals called “lignans.” Lignans are similar to the female hormone estrogen - so similar, in fact, that they compete with estrogen for a part in certain chemical reactions. As a result, natural estrogens seem to become less powerful in the body. Some researchers believe that lignans may be able to slow down the progress of certain breast cancers and other types of cancers that need estrogen to thrive.

For systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), flaxseed is thought to improve kidney function by decreasing the thickness of blood, reducing cholesterol levels, and reducing swelling.

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.