Comprehensive Guide to Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic Acid

Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic AcidDr. James Meschino DC, MS, ND
Download in PDF format Download in Epub format Download in Kindle format
General Features
Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic Acid Quick Guide
Flaxseed Oil is a very rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat that the body can slowly convert to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). EPA is the prominent omega-3 fat found within fish and fish oil that is linked to the prevention of heart disease, cancer and demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties.
Flaxseed Oil supplementation can help the body achieve a more optimal ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered to be 4:1.5 The North American diet provides a 20:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to contribute to the development of many chronic degenerative diseases.
Various polyunsaturated fats of the omega-6 and omega-3 series give rise to the formation of eicosanoids, including prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that regulate local tissue inflammation, proliferation and other factors). Studies reveal that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and lowering the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio results in increase of synthesis of anti-inflammatory and more health-promoting prostaglandins.
Studies reveal that Flaxseed Oil has a favourable effect on the immune system and that its alpha-linolenic acid is converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the immediate precursor of prostaglandin series-3 derivatives.
Supplementation Studies and Clinical Applications
Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic Acid Quick Guide
1. Anti-inflammatory and Autoimmune Reaction
Some evidence suggests that Flaxseed Oil inhibits autoimmune reactions as well as fish oil (EPA). It may take a little longer, but it is less expensive and Flaxseed Oil does not produce the fish smelling regurgitation associated with fish oil supplementation.
2. Cancer
Dr. Joanna Budwig of Germany is a leading expert on essential fatty acid nutrition and has built an international reputation for treating cancer and other degenerative diseases with Flaxseed Oil.12 A major study demonstrated that the combination of high dose antioxidants with essential fatty acids (including alpha-linolenic acid) was able to halt the further progression of breast cancer in a group of 32 affected women, with spread of their condition to the axillary lymph nodes. Supplementation was initiated as an adjustment to standard breast cancer treatment.
3. Heart Disease
Alpha-linolenic acid has been reported to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, in preliminary trials.
Dosage Range
Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic Acid Quick Guide
Flaxseed Oil supplementation for most applications is in the range of 1,000-4,000 mg per day.
Contraindications and Toxicity
Flaxseed Oil toxicity has not been reported at the above levels of intake and there are no known contraindications.
Drug-Nutrient Interactions
There are no well-known drug interactions with Flaxseed Oil.
References
Flaxseed Oil and Alpha-Linolenic Acid Quick Guide
1. Nordstrom DCE, Honkanen VEA, Nasu Y, Antila E, Friman C, Konttinen YT. Alpha-linolenic acid in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A double-blind placebo-controlled and randomized study: flaxseed vs safflower oil. Rheumatol Int 1995;14:231-4.
2. von Schacky C, Angerer P, Kothny W, Theisen K, Mudra H. The effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acids on coronary atherosclerosis. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 1999;130:554-62..
3. Mate J, Castanos R, Garcia-Samaniego J, Pajares JM. Does dietary fish oil maintain the remission of Crohn's disease: a case control study. Gastroenterology 1991;100:A228[abstract].
4. Gonzalez MJ. Fish oil, lipid peroxidation and mammary tumor growth. J Am Coll Nutr 1995;14:325..
5. Schlomo Y, et al. Modulating the learning pain thresholds, and thermoregulation in the rat by preparations of free purified alpha-linolenic and linolenic acids: Determination of the optimal w3-to w6 ratio. Proc Nat Acad Sci 1993;90:10345-7..
6. Murray M. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing; 1996. p. 249-78.
7. Lee TH, Hoover RL, Williams JD, Sperling RI, Ravalese J, Spur BW, et al. Effect of dietary enrichment with eicosapentaenoic and docosahexanoic acids on in vitro neutrophil and monocyte leukotriene generation and neutrophil generation. New Eng J Med 1985;312:1217-24..
8. Strasser T, Fischer S, Weber P. Leukotrien B5 is formed in human neutrophils after dietary supplementation with eicosapentaenoic acid. Proc Natl Acad Sci 1985;82:1540-3..
9. Bjerve KS, et al. Clinical studies with alpha-linolenic acid and long n-3 fatty acids. Nutrition 1992;8:130-2..
10. Mantzioris E, James MJ, Gibson RA, Cleland LG. Dietary substitution with alpha-linolenic acid-rich vegetable oil increases EPA concentrations in tissues. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59:1304-9..
11. Kelly DS. Alpha-linolenic acid and immune response. Nutrition 1992;8:215-7..
12. Erasmus U. Fats and oils. Vancouver, BC: Alive Books; 1986. p. 273..
13. Lockwood K, Moesgaard S, Folkers K. Partial and complete regression of breast cancer in patients in relation to dosage of coenzyme Q10. Biochem Biophys Res Comm 1994;199:1504-8..
14. Chan JK, Bruce VM, McDonald BE. Dietary alpha-linolenic acid is as effective as oleic acid and linoleic acid in lowering blood cholesterol in normolipidemic men. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;53:1230-4..
15. Singer P, Jaeger W, Berger I, et al. Effects of dietary oleic, linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids on blood pressure, serum lipids, lipoproteins and the formation of eicosanoid precursors in patients with mild essential hypertension. J Human Hypertansion 1990;4:227-233..
16. Healthnotes online. 2000 Healthnotes Inc: Flaxseed Oil..