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Flaxseed oil (Linum Usitatissimum)

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Important flaxseed oil facts

Flaxseed oil is extracted from the seeds of the flax plant and is another oil that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

Flaxseed oil is high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential fatty acids that assists with inflammatory diseases as well as heart health and other conditions.

Flaxseed is also high in lignans, which are plant-based eostrogens (or phytoestrogens). Lignans mimic the female sex hormone eostrogen, so may have a beneficial effect on the menstrual cycle by balancing the level of eostrogen to progesterone .Recent research shows they may be beneficial in prevent cancer. Flaxseed oil does not contain lignans.

  • Flaxseed is also called linseed
  • Flaxseeds contain lignans but flaxseed oil does not

Flaxseed oil and health

  • High blood pressure - several studies have own that omega-3 fatty acids (including ALA's) lower blood pressure significantly in people with high blood pressure
  • Heart health - people that have a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids (such as ALA's) have a reduced incidence of heart disease. The Mediterranean Diet is one such diet that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and there is a lower incidence of heart disease in people that follow this diet
  • Bowel disease - similarly to fish oil, flaxseed oil is beneficial in reducing symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - several studies have shown that some patients found relief from taking omega-3 essential fatty acids to relieve pain and inflammation in this condition
  • Depression - people with a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids or who have an imbalance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to be at a higher risk for depression. Studies have shown omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helps to improve brain activity and reduce symptoms of depression
  • Female problems - the anti-inflammatory effect of flaxseed oil helps to improve uterine function, reduce menstrual cramps and PMS and lessen the pain of fibrocystic (lumpy) breasts

People who wish to take a flaxseed oil supplement should talk to a medical professional before taking it.

Flaxseed oil recommened intake

Dosage of flaxseed oil depends on the condition that is being treated. A medical doctor and/or alternative health care provider can advise on individual cases - this information is provided as a guide only:

Lifestage Age Amount (per day)
INFANTS 0-12mths Not recommended
CHILDREN 1-8yrs Seek medical advice before taking it
CHILDREN 9-18yrs
Seek medical advice before taking it
ADULTS 19-50yrs
1 Tsp - 1 Tbsp oil or fibre once a day or
3000mg capsule twice a day
SENIORS 51+yrs 1 Tsp - 1 Tbsp oil or fibre once a day or
3000mg capsule twice a day
PREGNANT   Not recommended
LACTATING   Not recommended


Types of flaxseed oil supplements

Flaxseed oil is only available from one food - flaxseed! Flaxseed oil supplementation is available in the following ways:

  • Soft gel capsules - soft gelatin capsules are filled with flaxseed oil
  • Liquid - original flaxseed oil liquid
  • Fibre - flaxseed is ground to a fine or coarse powder.

Flaxseed oil supplementation checklist

  • Store flaxseed (oil and fibre) in the refrigerator to ensure freshness
  • Always take supplement with food to increase absorption
  • Flaxseed may decrease the absorption of other medication, so take it at least 2 hours before or after medicine dosage
  • Mix ground flaxseed with plenty of water - 1 glass of water for each tablespoon of flaxseed - to prevent it from swelling up or blocking the digestive tract or throat
  • Buy flaxseed oil that is packaged in an amber glass or opaque plastic bottle that will prevent the flaxseed oil from spoiling
  • Always check expiration date on the label

Flaxseed oil works best with

Overdosage, toxicity and cautions for flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil can cause some mild flatulence when it is first taken.


  • Men with prostate problems - a recent study has shown that alpha-linolenic acid may be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Men with prostate cancer or with a family history of prostate cancer should not take any type flaxseed or flaxseed oil supplement until this information can be confirmed with evidence from other studies
  • People with bowel obstructions - should never take flaxseed oil or ground flaxseeds as the flaxseed oil may make it worse
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women - should not take flaxseeds or flaxseed oil supplements due to the phytoestrogenic effect it has



  • Herbert PN, Miller M, Lear SA, Ornish D. Effect of Lifestyle Changes on Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA, Jul 1999; 282: 130 - 132
  • Hillyer LM, Sandiford AM, Gray CE, Woodward B.. Cold-pressed flaxseed oil reverses age-associated depression in a primary cell-mediated adaptive immune response in the mouse. Br J Nutr. 2006 Feb;95(2):230-3.
  • Nestel PJ, Pomeroy SE, Sasahara T, et al. Arterial compliance in obese subjects is improved with dietary plant n-3 fatty acid from flaxseed oil despite increased LDL oxidizability. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. July 1997;17(6):1163-1170
  • Psota TL, Gebauer SK, Kris-Etherton P.. Dietary omega-3 fatty acid intake and cardiovascular risk. Am J Cardiol. 2006 Aug 21;98(4A):3i-18i. Epub 2006 May 30. Review
  • Schwab US, Callaway J, Erkkila AT, Gynther J, Uusitupa MI, Jarvinen T. Effects of hempseed and flaxseed oils on the profile of serum lipids, serum total and lipoprotein lipid concentrations and haemostatic factors. Eur J Nutr. 2006 Dec;45(8):470-7. Epub 2006 Nov 10

Last reviewed 21 April 2019