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Flax Seed

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Flax seed, also known as linseed (Linum usitatissimum). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - All oral medications: Taking flax seed with any oral medication may decrease the body's absorption of that medication.

Warning 2 - Laxatives: Using flax seed with laxatives may increase the effects of laxatives on the body.

Warning 3 - Water: The excessive consumption of flax seed without an increase in water intake can cause bowel obstruction.

Warning 4 - Diabetes: Flaxseed may lower the effects of some medications used in treating diabetes. There is also a concern that consuming flaxseed may cause the blood sugar level to drop too low.

Warning 5 - Gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction: The high fiber content in flaxseed may cause problems for those with a narrowed esophagus, inflamed intestine, or bowel obstruction.

Warning 6 - Bleeding disorders: The use of flaxseed may slow clotting time and increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Warning 7 - Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Because flaxseed can act like the hormone estrogen, there is a concern that this might harm a pregnancy. The effect on breast-fed infants when a mother uses flaxseed is currently unknown. Experts recommend you stay on the safe side and not use flaxseed if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Warning 8 - Triglycerides: Flaxseed that is partially defatted (lower alpha linolenic acid content) may increase triglyceride levels.

Warning 9 - Unripe Flaxseed: Do not eat unripe flaxseed as it is thought to be poisonous.

Used as a natural health remedy: Flax seed is used internally for following benefits:
  • Flax seeds contain high levels of dietary fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Flax seeds may lower cholesterol levels, especially in women.
  • Studies suggest that flax seeds may benefit individuals with certain types of breast and prostate cancers.
  • Flax may lessen the severity of diabetes by stabilizing blood-sugar levels. *See warning number 4 above.
  • Flax seeds cools the hot flashes of menopause. (See other herbs for menopause)

Side Effects of Flax seed

The known side effects that may occur with Flax seed include:
  1. heartburn
  2. indigestion
  3. gas
  4. nausea
Other side effects may also occur when using Flax seed. (See form below)

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Flax seed and Flax supplements are available over-the-counter.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011-2012 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Flax Seed and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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