Flax seed and flax seed oil are popular health food items that have been around for thousands of years. Flax seed is high in beneficial omega 3 oils which are the "good" fats that are missing from the standard American diet. In addition to the oil, the fiber and the lignans from the ground seed are also good for you.
Here are just some of the benefits of flax seed oil. For the cardiovascular system, flax seed oil helps to prevent atherosclerosis and abnormal blood clotting. It also helps to lower blood pressure and helps to prevent heart attacks. Flax seed oil helps lower total cholesterol by up to 9 percent and helps to lower LDL cholesterol by as much as 18 percent.
For the hair, flax seed oil can help alleviate hair loss and dandruff while helping the hair look shinier. For the eyes, flax seed oil helps to improve eyesight and color perception.
For the immune system, flax seed oil is used in orthomolecular treatment of AIDS. It alleviates some allergies and inhibits the growth of some cancers. It helps with certain forms of lupus. Flax seed oil also helps lower the amount of insulin needed by diabetics.
Flax seed helps prevent immune suppression after intense exercise. It increases the body’s production of energy and helps alleviate fatigue after exercise while improving stamina.
The particular type of oil in flax seed is anti-inflammatory and helps alleviate pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
For the brain and nervous system, flax seed oil helps improve symptoms of depression, improves mental function and is beneficial in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Flax seed can help alleviate dry skin and some forms of eczema and psoriasis. I recommend adding flax seed oil to any vitamin regimen, especially in the winter, to keep skin from becoming dry and itchy.
Flax seed oil can also help improve the metabolism and absorption of calcium.
Flax seed oil is available in either liquid form or in softgel capsules. Freshness and handling is important. Whether taking capsules or liquid, it is important to taste the oil – you need to break open the softgels and taste them. If the oil tastes rancid, throw it out because it will do more harm than good. Flax seed oil does have an odd taste – it is kind of nutty, but it is good as a salad dressing with apple cider vinegar, or it is good stirred into yogurt.
Whether using flax seed, or flax seed oil, it is important to not cook it. Heat destroys all of the beneficial properties except for the fiber. Also, if using the seed, it must be ground since the seeds do not get broken down in the human system.
Recommended dosage of the oil varies from 1 to 2 tablespoons per day. The recommended seed use is 2 tablespoons of ground seed per day.
Margaret Durst owns The Green House, a vitamin, herb and health food store in Mason, Texas. www.naturalcowgirl.wordpress.com