Clinical studies suggest that flaxseed oil may be helpful in treating a variety of conditions. It contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, or EFAs. Flaxseed oil has a nutty flavor and can be added to food as a replacement for other oils, or it can be taken as a softgel. Some flaxseeds can be contaminated with lead, mercury and other toxic chemicals, so organic flaxseed oil, which is certified to be free of heavy metals, is recommended.
Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, which is a fatty acid that the body converts into the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Due to the ALA content of flaxseed oil, itl may be beneficial to arthritis sufferers. Preliminary studies suggest that ALA can reduce arthritis-related joint pain and stiffness and improve mobility. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) says that more research needs to be done, but ALA may also treat autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis and may increase lung function in asthma sufferers, prevent breast cancer, prevent and treat depression and reduce menstrual pain.
Flaxseed oil may be able to heal the inner lining of inflamed intestines, and preliminary research suggests that it may be helpful for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease and colitis. UMMC reports that the omega-3 content of flaxseed oil can help to reduce the inflammation associated with these disorders and that many people with Crohn’s disease have been found to be deficient in omega-3s.
Omega-3s may also help to prevent the replication of cancer cells in patients with colon cancer, but the studies suggesting this were conducted using fish oil and not flaxseed oil. UMMC notes, however, that although studies have not been done on humans, preliminary studies done on animals suggest that the ALA omega-3s found in flaxseed oil might actually be more beneficial than fish oil in the treatment of colon disorders such as colon cancer.
According to UMMC, evidence suggests that ALA may be cardioprotective, which means it promotes a healthy cardiovascular system and prevents cardiovascular disease. People who consume an ALA-rich diet are less likely to suffer from heart attacks. The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but ALA may reduce heart disease risk in a variety of ways. It may reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels, promote blood vessel health, regulate the heartbeat and help keep the blood thin and not sticky. Flaxseed oil may reduce the effectiveness of certain medications, and you should talk to your health care practitioner before supplementing with it.
- flax seed image by Soja Andrzej from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.