Herbalist says, `Just the flax oil, ma’am’ | PostIndependent.com

Herbalist says, `Just the flax oil, ma’am’

Laurel Dewey

Gandhi had it right when he said, “Wherever flax seeds become a regular food item among the people, there will be better heath.”

While the stems are responsible for making twine and spinning fibers for clothing your body, it is the flax seed that can do wonders for your insides.

Let’s clarify something. Flax seed is also known as linseed and flax oil has commonly been called linseed oil.

However today’s linseed oil is a denatured product which is unfit for human consumption. Linseed oil is found in paint, varnish, concrete sealer, putty and is the main ingredient in linoleum.

In an effort to differentiate the two, the term flax seed oil refers to the healing oil meant for internal use and the term linseed oil refers to the industrial stuff.

While the actual flax seed is both nutritious and healing, the oil which is extracted via a cold-pressed method is gaining tremendous popularity.

The two compounds that make flax so fab are linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. Both of these are polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (EFA).

EFAs are vital because they support and nourish nerve cells and trigger the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins which are important for many bodily functions.

Of the two EFAs, alpha-linolenic acid is the one everybody is excited about. In scientific terminology, it is referred to as an “omega-3” oil. Omega-3 oils are considered vital as both a preventative and healing nutrient for disease. Thankfully, flax seed oil is one of the richest sources of omega-3 nutrients.

If your body is lacking in omega-3 oils, you could be battling everything from heart ailments and arthritis to depression, skin problems and mental illness. When omega-3 oils are included in your daily diet, health concerns such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, bursitis, psoriasis, eczema, PMS, anxiety and even multiple sclerosis can be improved.

Flax seed oil is sold in capsules and in the liquid form. The daily adult capsule dose is from 3,000 milligrams to 9,000 milligrams, depending upon the severity of your symptoms.

If you are using flax to ease chronic arthritis, I would start with 9,000 milligrams a day and then slightly reduce the dose after several months. If after reducing the dose, you note any obvious setback in your health, increase the dose back to 9,000 milligrams.

A maintenance dose is anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams a day.

The oil also comes in liquid form and the dose is anywhere from one to three tablespoons a day. Pour the oil over pasta or make it the base for a lemon and herb salad dressing.

One excellent way for everyone to benefit from flax seed oil is blending one tablespoon into one cup of cottage cheese. This specific daily combo has been shown in Europe to ameliorate many chronic health problems.

Because flax seed oil is a highly polyunsaturated oil, it’s extremely sensitive to heat. When it becomes hot, such as through cooking, it forces toxic molecules called “lipid peroxides” to form. Thus, do not cook with flax seed oil! Store the oil in a cool cupboard or the refrigerator.

When taking flax seed oil, it’s a good idea to include a multi-B vitamin rich in B-6 and B-12, as well as a multi-vitamin containing zinc, iron and niacin, in your daily routine. Don’t overdo it on either supplement, since flax has a tendency to greatly increase the effectiveness of both.

Isn’t it incredible that the same plant that gives us twine also has the ability to hold our health together? That’s the plain and simple flax.

E-mail your questions to The Humorous Herbalist at writer8@sopris.net.

The information in this column is not meant to take the place of your physician, nor is it intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe. Pregnant or nursing women should consult their doctor before using herbal therapy.

Laurel Dewey is extending the offer on autographed copies of her book “The Humorous Herbalist.” Purchase two books for $10 each ($5 off the regular price) and receive a third book free. Send $20 plus $3 postage and handling to The Humorous Herbalist, P.O. Box 1984, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.

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