Taken from the seed of the flax plant, flaxseed oil is a product that may promote heart health. The active component found in the oil may help reduce inflammation and prevent blood platelets from sticking together. While side effects are not likely to occur with flaxseed oil, high doses may cause diarrhea and loose stools.
What Is Flaxseed Oil?
Flaxseed oil, as the name suggests, is oil from the seed of the flax plant. People sometimes assume that flaxseed oil possesses all the same benefits as flaxseed, but this is not the case. Flaxseed oil does not contain all of the active components found in flaxseed.
The active component of flaxseed oil is probably alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that may promote heart health. ALA may reduce inflammation and decrease the ability of platelets to stick together (an important step in forming blood clots).
It's important to note that flaxseed does not contain two of the active compounds found in whole or ground flaxseed -- fiber and phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen-like compounds). This is why you cannot assume that flaxseed oil has the same effects on the body as flaxseed.
Is Flaxseed Oil Effective?
There is no convincing evidence that flaxseed oil is effective for most uses (see Does Flaxseed Oil Work? for more information).
Flaxseed Oil Dosing Information
A recommended dose for flaxseed oil has not been established. However, general information is available based on small clinical studies and practical experience with flaxseed oil.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Jellin JM, editor. Pharmacist's Letter/Prescriber's Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Available at: http://naturaldatabase.com/. Accessed January 15, 2008.
National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. National Institutes of Health. Herbs at a glance: flaxseed oil and flaxseed oil oil (May 2006). NCCAM Web site. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flaxseed oil/. Accessed January 15, 2008.
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