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The flax plant (Linum usitatissimum) has a long history as a healing herb.
In early Europe, the plant’s brown seeds were regularly used to prepare balms for inflamed skin as well as other maladies.
Today, flaxseeds are best known for the therapeutic oil derived by pressing them. Rich in essential fatty acids, or EFAs, flaxseed oil has earned a solid reputation for treating a range of ailments, from heart disease to lupus — and gained a “must have” status among bodybuilders and athletes.
EFAs work throughout the body to protect cell membranes keeping them efficient at admitting healthy substances while barring damaging ones.
One of the EFAs in flaxseed oil —alpha-linolenic acid— is known as an omega-3 fatty acid. Like the omega-3s found in fish, it appears to reduce the risk of heart disease and numerous other ailments. Flaxseeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids in the form of linoleic acid; omega-6s are the same healthy fats found in vegetable oils.
Flaxseeds also are a rich source of lignans, substances that appear to positively affect hormone-related problems. Some researchers believe Lignans may also be useful in preventing certain cancers and combating specific bacteria, fungi, and viruses, including those that cause cold sores and shingles.
Using Flaxseed Oil on a regular basis can help to:
- Lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and control high blood pressure,
- Counter inflammation associated with gout, lupus and fibrocystic breasts.
- Treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea.
- Promote healthy hair, skin and nails.
- Minimize nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling as well as other disorders.
- Reduce cancer risk and guard against the effects of aging.
- Treat menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, female infertility and endometriosis.
- Fight prostate problems, male infertility and impotence.
Flax Seed Oil and Dry Eyes
In their healthy state, the surface of our eyes has a protective coating called tear film that helps keep the eye moist underneath. When there is a dietary imbalance of the ratio of healthy fats (omega-3) to unhealthy fats (omega-6), the tear film becomes inflamed and weak, resulting in dry eye.
The dry, itchy, sand-in-your-eye feeling known as “dry eye” affects over 59 million Americans and is their top complaint at the eye doctor. And, it is also a major complaint of those who undergo lasik, laser or other kinds of corrective eye surgery.
Recently, researchers in the Harvard Women’s Health Study have discovered a dietary link to this irritating condition: a lack of healthy fats in the diet.
Specifically, eating sufficient quantities of omega-3 fatty acids and keeping omega-6 fatty acids to a minimum helped to significantly lower study subjects’ risk of developing dry eye.