Au Natural Factual: Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil or flax oil is derived from the flax plant (linum usitatissimum), a blue-flowering plant. This oil is also commonly known as linseed oil. The common species of the flax plant, linum usitatissimum is mainly cultivated for its fiber and seed. Other types of flax oils can be used ornamentally or for industrial and pharmaceutical purposes depending on the production method. Industrial uses for flaxseed oil include paint binders, waterproofing agents and glossing.

Flaxseed oil can be found as nutritional supplement and a topical oil. Traditionally, flaxseed oil was used as medicine by many different cultures specifically for skin irritation and other inflammatory ailments. High in anti-inflammatory properties, flaxseed oil is thought to be useful for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.

The oil is produced by processing the seeds from the flax plant and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (about 50-60% Omega-3s) and specifically, alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil works wonders on the skin when applied topically as it norishes and locks in moisture on the skin. Flaxseed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help minimize redness and skin irritation. The oil can also prevent skin having a dull appearance and smoothes fine lines.

Flaxseed oil can also be ingested as a nutritional supplement and is also said to prevent various diseases such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes allergies and more.

Because flax seed oil is easily oxidized, which diminishes its antioxidant capabilities, make sure to find and maintain flax oil:

  • in a dark container
  • protected from light
  • vacuum sealed when you buy it
  • stored in the refrigerator after opening it

The EWG’s Skin Deep database rates Flaxseed Oil with a score of 0 for overall hazard. 

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Sources and to learn more: Barbara Mendez NutritionEnvironmental Working Group, FrontierNet, The Derm Blog, Wikipedia

Images: Barbara Mendez Nutrition, Dr. Seibel