Flaxseed is an amazing super food with numerous health benefits that promote your overall health. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, blended in smoothies for breakfast, sprinkled on cereals, added to salads and yogurt, however you prefer it. It’s rich in alpha-linolenic acid which the body converts to essential omega 3 fatty acids.
The health benefits of flaxseeds are innumerable. It has anti-inflammatory properties, it protects you from cancer and it helps keep your blood pressure under control. However, even the best super foods are bound to have some side-effects and some people who suffer from certain conditions should not consume it. You can find below a list of flaxseed side-effects as well as a list of people who shouldn’t consume it so that you can be well informed and act accordingly. It should be mentioned that raw or unripe flaxseed is not safe for consumption and could be potentially toxic.
The Side Effects of Flaxseeds
- Laxative Effects
According to the U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH) flaxseeds could exhibit some laxative properties. This is why they don’t recommend it to people suffering from diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Digestive Tract Obstruction
Another downside of flaxseeds is that they could cause obstruction of the esophagus, intestines or bowel if taken in large doses or without enough liquid. Flaxseed is not recommended for consumption for people with narrowing of the esophagus, intestine or bowel, or those who already suffer an obstruction in these areas. Moreover, according to the University of Michigan Health System scleroderma patients should check with their doctor before consuming flaxseeds because some patients developed severe constipation and bowel obstruction after starting fiber supplementation.
- Flaxseed Allergy
Even though they’re uncommon, flaxseed allergies should be mentioned as well. There have been a few reported cases of severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, as well as life-threatening anaphylaxis.
- Overdose Effects
The NIH has been researching the effects of a flaxseed overdose in animal studies and even though it’s uncommon it may lead to shortness of breath, rapid breathing, weakness and trouble walking. If you accidentally overdose on flaxseed it may also cause seizures or paralysis.
- High Triglyceride Levels (hypertriglyceridemia)
Partially defatted flaxseed (flaxseed with less alpha-linolenic acid content) might increase triglyceride levels.
- Hormone-Sensitive Cancers or Conditions
In some aspects flaxseed may have similar properties as the hormone estrogen which is why some worry it may aggravate se certain hormone-sensitive conditions. Women who take flaxseeds every day may notice changes in their menstruation (flow, duration etc). The National Institute for Health strongly advises that women with hormone-related health conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine fibroids, and breast, ovarian or uterine cancer should be careful when consuming flaxseed. On the other hand, some early lab and animal studies suggest that flaxseed might actually oppose estrogen and might be protective against hormone-dependent cancer, but this is yet to be scientifically verified and proven. Until then, be vary!
Here’s which groups of people are not recommended to consume flaxseed in any form because it may lead to health complication and aggravation of their condition:
- Pregnant Women – because it could stimulate menstruation or have other hormonal effects that might have harmful effects on the developing baby.
- Diabetic Patients – because the omega-3 fatty acids it contains can increase blood sugar levels,
- People With Low Blood Pressure (hypotension) – because it could lower diastolic blood pressure.
- People With High Blood Pressure (hypertension) – if they take it in combination with their blood-pressure-lowering medication (it may lower it further more).
- People With Bleeding Disorders – because it may increase the risk of excessive bleeding since it decreases clotting. The same goes for people who’re on medications or supplements with blood-thinning effects.
- Bipolar Disorder Patients – because it has been linked with mania-like symptoms.