Small Steps Towards Better Health

Small Steps Towards Better Health

Flax is one of the oldest crops of the world. The cultivation of Flax or common flax or linseed dates back to ancient Egyptian civilization. The discovery of Flax fibers in the prehistoric caves of Georgia demonstrates Flax plant was in use since 30,000 B.C.

The health benefits of Flax has intrigued human beings through ages. Several clinical studies have been conducted establishing the definite beneficial effect of Flax seed in several diseases and conditions.

Flax seed derived from the plant Linum usitatissimum is extremely rich in dietary fibers andomega-3 fatty acids. Flax seed is believed to reduce blood cholesterol level by binding to cholesterol and preventing it’s absorption from the intestine.

There is also evidence to believe Flax seed makes the platelets less sticky, thus prevent platelet aggregation. This dual role of

flax seed
Image Credit : Sanjay Acharya. Wikipedia

Flax seed in reducing blood cholesterol level and preventing blood clotting helps in the prevention of atherosclerosis or commonly called hardening of arteries.

According to Natural Medicines Comprehensive database Flax Seed is possible effective in reducing the hemoglobin A1c level, which in a measure of the long term blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetics. Thus Flax seed has a role in better control of blood sugar in diabetics.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive database also states Flax seed lowers the blood level of Total cholesterol and specially the ‘Bad cholesterol’ that is ‘LDL’ or ‘Low density lipoprotein’. This suggests the beneficial effect of Flax seed in Cardiovascular system.

Due to high content of omega-3 fatty acids, an alpha-linolenic acid herbalists have long been recommending Flax seed as a cancer-preventive. Flax seed has been used for the prevention and even treatment of several cancers, in some natural therapies for cancer like the Dr. Johanna Budwig Protocol. Flax seed has been used for the prevention of Breast cancer, Lung cancer, prostate cancer and cancer of the colon and rectum.

Flax seed is rich in Lignans which can act as an anti-estrogen. This is believed to prevent the development of estrogen dependent tumors such as breast cancer. The Lignan is also an anti-oxidant that can slow the cancer cell growth.

Flax seed is also believed to have health benefits in reducing

* Breast pain, called as Mastalgia

* Relieving mild menopausal symptoms.

* In controlling constipation acting as a bulk laxative.

* Flax seed has also been used to prevent weakening of bones with age [Osteoporosis]

More research is still needed to evaluate all the possible health benefits of Flax seed.

References:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/991.html

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/flaxseed

Pan A, Sun J, Chen Y, et al. 2007. Effects of a flaxseed-derived lignan supplement in type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial. PLoS ONE. 2(11): e1148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001148.