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flax seed oil
Overview
Flaxseed oil comes from the seeds of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum, L.). Flaxseed oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are needed for health. Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Some researchers think that flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA. And the benefits of ALA, EPA, and DHA are not necessarily the same. Omega-3 fatty acids, usually from fish oil, have been shown to reduce inflammation and help prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and arthritis.

Flaxseed -- but not flaxseed oil -- also contains a group of chemicals called lignans that may play a role in the prevention of cancer.


What is Flax Seed Oil ?
Flaxseed is the seed of the flax plant, historically used as a source of fiber. It is available in powder, oil, and capsule form. Flaxseed oil (also called linseed oil) comes from the seeds of the flax plant. Flaxseed oil contains essential fatty acids (EFAs), which may offer some benefit in lowering cholesterol, decreasing platelet aggregation, insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, and relieving pain.

Where it is found
Flaxseed oil comes from the seed of the flax plant. It contains 50 - 60% omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). That is more than is contained in fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils. So ALA from flaxseed may not have the same benefit as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish oil.

Benefits / uses
Heart disease
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts or legumes, and ALA rich foods may substantially reduce the recurrence of heart disease. One of the best ways to help prevent and treat heart disease is to eat a diet that is low in saturated and trans fat and rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed and fish). Evidence suggests that people who eat an ALA rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. ALA may reduce heart disease risks through a variety of ways, reducing inflammation, promoting blood vessel health, and reducing risk of arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).

Several human studies also suggest that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids (including ALA) may lower blood pressure.


Sjogren' s syndrome
Preliminary evidence that suggests taking 1 - 2 g of flaxseed per day can improve the symptoms of dry eye in people with Sjogren' s syndrome. Sjogren' s syndrome is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks glands in the body that produce moisture, like salivary and tear glands.

Cancer
Studies suggest that flaxseed oil may help prevent the growth of breast tumors. In one Canadian Study, researchers discovered that flaxseed oil prevented breast tumor growth, likely through ALA content. Patients with breast cancer should not take any nutritional supplement without their doctor's approval.Helpful in the treatment of Eczema, Psoriasis, and Dandruff.

Can relieve some cases of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) in females


Best Form For Human Consumption
Flaxseed oil is available in liquid and softgel capsule forms. Like any oil, flaxseed oil may turn rancid if it is not refrigerated. Flaxseed oil requires special packaging because it is easily destroyed by heat, light, and oxygen. The highest quality flaxseed products are made using fresh pressed seeds, bottled in dark containers, and processed at low temperatures in the absence of light, extreme heat, or oxygen.

Be sure to buy flaxseed oil supplements made by reputable companies who certify that their products are free of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.


Doses
The dose depends on how much fatty acids you get in your diet and which condition you are taking flaxseed oil for.

Flaxseed oil: Take 1 - 2 tablespoonfuls daily, or 1 - 2 capsules daily. Flaxseed oil is often used in a liquid form, which contains approximately 7 grams of ALA per 15 mL (1 tbsp), and contains about 130 calories.


Possible Side effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions:
Flaxseed oil is LIKELY SAFE for most adults when used appropriately short-term. Large doses of 30 grams per day and higher can cause loose stools and diarrhea. Allergic reactions have occurred while taking flaxseed oil.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy: Flaxseed oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in pregnancy. Some research suggests that flaxseed oil might increase the change of premature birth when taken during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. Pregnant women should avoid taking flaxseed oil.

Breast-feeding: There isn’t enough reliable information available about the safety of flaxseed oil during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid using flaxseed oil while breast-feeding until more is known.

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.

Research studies / References
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Basch E, Bent S, Collins J, et al. Flax and flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum): a review by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Soc Integr Oncol 2007 Summer;5(3):92-105.
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Brooks JD, Ward WE, Lewis JE, et al. Supplementation with flaxseed alters estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women to a greater extent than does supplementation with an equal amount of soy. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79(2):318-325.
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Dahl WJ, Lockert EA, Cammer AL, et al. Effects of flax fiber on laxation and glycemic response in healthy volunteers. J Med Food 2005 Winter;8(4):508-11.
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Dodin S, Lemay A, Jacques H, et al. The effects of flaxseed dietary supplement on lipid profile, bone mineral density, and symptoms in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, wheat germ placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90(3):1390-1397.
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Faintuch J, Horie LM, Barbeiro HV, et al. Systemic inflammation in morbidly obese subjects: response to oral supplementation with alpha-linolenic acid. Obes Surg 2007 Mar;17(3):341-7.
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Goss PE, Li T, Theriault M, et al. Effects of dietary flaxseed in women with cyclical mastalgia. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2000;64:49.
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Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and risk of fatal ischemic heart disease among women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(5):890-897.
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Joshi K, Lad S, Kale M, et al. Supplementation with flax oil and vitamin C improves the outcome of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2006 Jan;74(1):17-21.
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Lemay A, Dodin S, Kadri N, et al. Flaxseed dietary supplement versus hormone replacement therapy in hypercholesterolemic menopausal women. ObstetGynecol 2002;100(3):495-504.
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Lewis JE, Nickell LA, Thompson LU, et al. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of dietary soy and flaxseed muffins on quality of life and hot flashes during menopause. Menopause 2006 Jul-Aug;13(4):631-42.
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Mandasescu S, Mocanu V, Dascalita AM, et al. Flaxseed supplementation in hyperlipidemic patients. Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi. 2005 Jul-Sep;109(3):502-6.
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Oomen CM, Ocke MC, Feskens EJ, et al. Alpha-Linolenic acid intake is not beneficially associated with 10-y risk of coronary artery disease incidence: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;74(4):457-463.
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Stoll AL, Severus WE, Freeman MP, et al. Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen.Psychiatry 1999;56(5):407-412.
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von Schacky C, Angerer P, Kothny W, et al. The effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on coronary atherosclerosis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 4-6-1999;130(7):554-562.
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Young GS, Conquer JA, Thomas R. Effect of randomized supplementation with high dose olive, flax or fish oil on serum phospholipid fatty acid levels in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Reprod Nutr Dev 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):549-58.