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Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum)

Flaxseed Oil (Linum usitatissimum)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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 to benefit nutrition. Flaxseed oil contains the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

People take flaxseed oil by mouth for constipation, osteoarthritis, pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis, cancers including breast cancer and prostate cancer, anxiety, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), vaginal infections, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, exercise performance, an ovary disorder called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), diabetes, weight loss, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart disease, HIV/AIDS, high triglyceride levels, high cholesterol and other fats in the blood, high blood pressure, dry skin, dry eyes, and reducing inflammation associated with a treatment for kidney disease called hemodialysis.

People apply flaxseed oil to the skin to sooth irritations or soften roughness and for carpal tunnel syndrome. It is used in the eye for dry eye.

In foods, flaxseed oil is used in salad dressings and in margarines.

In manufacturing, flaxseed oil is used as an ingredient in paints, varnishes, linoleum, and soap; and as a waterproofing agent. When it is used for manufacturing purposes, flaxseed oil is usually referred to as linseed oil.

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.

Traditionally used for

Carpal tunnel syndrome.
"Hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Heart disease.
Dry eyes.
Dry skin.
Treatment for kidney disease called hemodialysis.
High blood pressure.
Vaginal problems.


Applied to the Skin:

For carpal tunnel syndrome: 5 drops of flaxseed oil has been applied to the wrist twice daily for 4 weeks.

Possible Side Effects

Flaxseed oil is SAFE for most adults when taken by mouth appropriately 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. Allergic reactions have occurred while taking flaxseed oil.

Some men worry that taking flaxseed oil might increase their chance of getting prostate cancer because of the alpha-linolenic acid that flaxseed oil contains. Researchers are still trying to figure out the role of alpha-linolenic acid in prostate cancer. Some studies suggest that alpha-linolenic acid may increase risk or make existing prostate cancer worse, but other studies find no connection. Nevertheless, the alpha-linolenic acid in flaxseed oil does not seem to be a problem.

Alpha-linolenic acid from plant sources, such as flaxseed, does not seem to affect prostate cancer risk, although alpha-linolenic acid from dairy and meat sources has been linked in some studies with prostate cancer.

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 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 is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking flaxseed oil if you are 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.

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