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Flax Seed - Flaxseed Oil Health Benefits and Side Effects

SCIENTIFIC NAME(S): Linum usitatissimum L.
Family: Linaceae

COMMON NAME(S): Flax, flaxseed, linseed, lint bells, linum

Flax Seed Oil is a blue flowering plant that is grown on the Western Canadian Prairies for its oil rich seeds. This natural oil (also known as Linseed Oil) is highly recommended for the general well being and whole body nutrition and is considered to be nature's richest source of omega-3 fatty acids that are required for the health of almost all body systems.

History

Flax has been used for more than 10,000 years as a source of fiber for weaving. It was one of the earliest plants recognized for purposes other than as food. Flax is prepared from the fibers in the stem of the plant. Linseed oil, derived from the flaxseed, has been used as a topical demulcent and emollient and as a laxative, particularly for animals. Linseed oil is used in paints and varnishes as a waterproofing agent. Flaxseed cakes have been used as cattle feed.

Traditional medicinal uses of the plant have varied. One text notes that the seeds have been used to remove foreign material from the eye. A moistened seed would be placed under the closed eyelid for a few moments allowing the material to adhere to the seed, thereby facilitating removal. Other uses include the treatment of coughs and colds, constipation, and urinary tract infections. The related L catharticum yields a purgative decoction.

Botany :- The flax plant grows as a slender annual and reaches 30 to 90 cm in height. It branches at the top and has small, pale green alternate leaves that grow on the stems and branches. Flax was introduced to the North American continent from Europe and grows in Canada and the northwestern US. Each branch is tipped with 1 or 2 delicate blue flowers that bloom from February through September.

Uses of Flax

Linseed oil, derived from flaxseed, has been used as a topical demulcent and emollient, laxative, and as treatment for coughs, colds, and urinary tract infections. Flaxseed cakes have been used as cattle feed. Research suggests dietary flaxseed may improve blood lipid profile.

Can relieve the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. It can relieve the symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus.

Should you add flax seed oil to your diet?

Some nutritionists, researchers, and scientists believe that it could be the most important health-promoting supplement next to a multi-vitamin. Nearly every system in the body can benefit from flax seed oil's natural properties, including the cardiovascular system, immune system, circulatory system, reproductive system, nervous system, as well as joints.

Side Effects of Flax

Ingestion of large amounts may be harmful. Many workers exposed to flax show immunologically positive antigens.

Dosage and Administration

As flaxseed is also a common food product, it can be ground or crushed and added to beverages, breads, and other baking products. Also available are flaxseed powder-filled capsules. Flaxseed oil comes in soft capsules or as a liquid, which both must be protected from heat and light.

For use as a laxative, mix one tablespoonful in water and take two or three times daily. Since flaxseed swells when it mixed with fluids, make sure to use at least 8 ounces of water for each tablespoonful of flaxseed to prevent intestinal blockage.

Alternatively, one to three tablespoons of flaxseed oil can be used per day as a laxative by adding it to food such as breads, salads, meals, or beverages. Note: Do not heat flaxseed oil as heat diminishes its nutritional value.

When taking flaxseed to combat high cholesterol, take 40 to 50 grams (approximately three tablespoons) of flaxseed or one to three tablespoons of flaxseed oil daily or as suggested by the manufacturer's label.

Toxicology

The cyanogenic properties of some of the constituents of flax suggest that ingestion of large amounts of the plant may be harmful. However, this is primarily a veterinary problem encountered in grazing animals.

In one survey, approximately 50% of the workers exposed to flax at their jobs demonstrated immunologically positive antigen tests. No other significant toxicity has been associated with dietary levels of flax.

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