Flaxseed Side Effects

The Benefits and Side Effects of Flaxseed

The benefits and side effects of flaxseed should be considered together before one decides to use this seed or its oil. Flaxseed is the seed that comes from a plant called Linum Usitatissimum. This plant is naturally occurring and people have been using flaxseed for a very long time; however it wasn’t until the 1980’s when flaxseed really blew up as a supplemental health product. Flaxseed is still surrounded by a great deal of hype regarding certain health issues, particularly for intestinal health, but in order for one to reap the benefits of this supplement, they must also understand the risks and side effects of flaxseed that can occur through improper or excessive use.

The Benefits of Flaxseed

Flaxseed is loaded with fiber, which is why it is often used to aid people with constipation and intestinal issues. Flaxseed can also be used to help one’s colon recover from the overuse of laxatives. Using laxatives for an extended period of time can cause the colon to become dependent upon them in order to make regular bowel movements. Flaxseed, when taken in the correct dose, helps to soften stool without forcing a bowel movement, which gives the colon a chance to recover.

Flaxseed also contains a large amount of a nutrient called lignin. This nutrient is also found in buckwheat, soy beans, and wheat bran, although flaxseed contains much more lignin than these items. Lignin helps to get rid of excessive amounts of estrogen within the body which makes the occurrence of an estrogen-based cancer, such as breast cancer, less likely. This has opened a new door for cancer research! Lignin also contains antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Many of us have experienced a bit of pressure from our doctor to take omega-3 fish oil supplements. A great way to avoid fishy tasting burps is to take flaxseed supplements. Omega-3 oil has been proven to improve brain function as well as mood stability, but it also greatly reduces one’s chances of suffering from a heart attack. Adding flaxseed to one’s diet can also help to reduce the amount of LDL (low-density lipoproteins, or “bad”) cholesterol. It is believed that this is possible because the fiber binds to the cholesterol within the intestines, making it unable to be absorbed by the body. While flaxseed can help to flush out unwanted LDL cholesterol, it does not have any effect on the amount of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

For some women, the symptoms of menopause can be extremely difficult to handle. Flaxseed could be just the thing to help take the edge off of some of those symptoms. As mentioned earlier, flaxseed helps the body to expel excessive amounts of estrogen. Because of this, the right amount of flaxseed can cause a significant decrease in the occurrence of night sweat episodes as well as hot flashes. In order for flaxseed to be effective in this area of health, it must be taken in doses of 40mg daily.

Side Effects of Flaxseed

Even a good thing must be limited before certain side effects begin to crop up, and flaxseed is no different. Because flaxseed has such a high fiber content, it is not uncommon to experience cramps or gassiness, usually around the time a bowel movement is necessary. Some people have reported the occurrence of an upset stomach and even nausea, although these symptoms are a little less likely. These gastrointestinal issues are usually associated with diets that contain too much flaxseed. In some people, flaxseed has been known to cause constipation and diarrhea. This is often due to the bulkiness that high-fiber supplements tend to have. This can, in a way, clog the intestines until it is finally pushed through, in which case it is likely to be followed by diarrhea.

Don’t Use Flaxseed If…

Flaxseed may not be safe for diabetics because it has a tendency to lower one’s blood glucose level. For a diabetic, this could be quite dangerous. Flaxseed is also not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as this seed tends to mimic estrogen which can seriously upset a woman’s hormone balance. Those with blood disorders—particularly those in which clotting is an issue—should not take flaxseed, as it has a thinning effect on blood. As flaxseed is thought to be poisonous in its raw form, it should never be used in the unprocessed state.

Flaxseed, in moderate doses, is usually safe for most people, but as with any medication or supplement, it’s important to seriously consider the side effects before adding it to one’s diet.