What are the benefits of milled flaxseed?

Written by angela kaelin
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What are the benefits of milled flaxseed?
Flaxseed contains Omega-3. (Marina Lohrbach/iStock/Getty Images)

Milled flaxseed, which contains omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, is used to treat a variety of different ailments. It has been shown in studies to prevent and reduce the growth of cancer cells in the prostate gland. It may also be useful in treating many different types of cancer. Flaxseed enhances the immune system and the digestive system. It promotes healthy mental function by providing necessary nutritional support to brain tissue. It is used to balance hormones, regulate blood sugar levels, treat nerve disorders, and alleviate skin conditions such as eczema and acne.

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Introduction

The seeds from the flax plant have a long history as a healing agent, used for a variety of different conditions. Milled flaxseed, sprinkled in soups, salads and juices in the amount of about three tablespoons per day, provides nutrition that helps keep the body healthy. Flaxseed is a common ingredient in bread and cereals. It can be bought at health food shops and some supermarkets.

Flaxseed, also called linseed, is used in preparations for pleurisy, muscular rheumatism, as a poultice for inflammation and ulcerations and as a laxative. Milled flaxseed contains phytoestrogens, alpha-linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids. Research has demonstrated the efficacy of flaxseed in reducing and eliminating a variety of different kinds of cancer cells in animals. A 2007 study found that flaxseed reduced growth of breast cancer cells in mice and enhanced the effectiveness of tamoxifen, which is a drug for hormonal therapy.

Apart from fighting cancer, flaxseed is used to control cholesterol levels, combat heart disease, regulate female hormone levels, boost the immune system, and promote a sense of overall well-being. As a natural anti-inflammatory, flaxseed has been used in the treatment of a variety of skin disorders such as acne, eczema and psoriasis. It facilitates the growth of healthy hair and nail tissue. It is used to regulate blood sugar levels and as a treatment for diabetes. It has also been used as a treatment for nerve damage in cases of multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. And it has been used to treat a variety of connective tissue disorders, such as lupus and gout.

Prostate cancer

A 2001 study by Duke University reported in the journal Urology suggested that, "A low-fat diet supplemented with flaxseed may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer." Researchers believe that the acids in flaxseed bind with testosterone to reduce the growth of cancer cells. It might be useful to point out that flaxseed is a phytohormone of the same class as other herbs, such as evening primrose and saw palmetto, which also are used in the treatment of prostate gland disorders. A follow-up study in 2007 complimented the findings of the previous one, although researchers can only speculate on how flaxseed works to interfere with prostate cancer. A Science Daily article entitled, "Flaxseed Stunts the Growth of Prostate Tumors," reported that, "the seed, which is similar to a sesame seed, may be able to interrupt the chain of events that leads cells to divide irregularly and become cancerous."

Mental health

Adding milled flaxeed to the diet may provide an overall improvement in mood. It supplies the fats and oils necessary for brain health. An article published on McMan's Depression and Bipolar Web cited numerous studies that suggest that the fatty acids in flaxseed can help to relieve some mental disorders. Flaxseed can help improve memory and mental alertness. Some alternative health practitioners suggest flaxseed helps those who suffer from bipolar disorder. It can reduce stress levels and help alleviate mood swings.

Laxative

Milled flaxseed has long been used as a laxative. It's fibrous quality and the fatty oils it contains help to keep the digestive system regular. It is a detoxificant for the liver and, consequently, it aides the body in elimination. A side effect of using flaxseed as a laxative may come as relief for rheumatoid arthritis due to toxic accumulation in the tissues. Flaxseed can help those with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, chronic constipation and the associated gas and bloating.

Female hormone balancing

Flaxseed is a phytoestrogen that acts as a catalyst when it is used with other phytoestrogenic herbs. Used together with the topical wild yam, flaxseed can provide superior results to pharmaceutical hormone replacement therapy (HRT) without the negative side effects. Not only does flaxseed help those suffering from menopausal symptoms, but it helps those suffering from painful menstruation and infertility. It aides the proper function of the uterus and may help to relieve the excessive hemorrhaging that accompanies endometriosis.

Warnings and drug interactions

Milled flaxseed should be kept refrigerated. Because flaxseed is a phytohormone, it is suggested that it be used with caution by women who are pregnant or nursing. An article from the American Cancer Society warned of "some possible side effects that may include diarrhoea, gas and nausea. Flaxseed oil should not be used with other laxatives or stool softeners." The article also reported some drug interactions. "Some medicines and supplements may not be absorbed properly if they are taken at the same time as flaxseed. For this reason, some doctors recommend taking medications one or two hours before or after taking flaxseed."

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