Natural Standard® Patient Monograph, Copyright © 2017 ( All Rights Reserved. Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.


Flaxseed and flaxseed oil (or linseed oil) are rich sources of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). In the body, some ALA is converted to omega-3 fatty acids.

Lignans are a type of plant hormone similar to estrogen. The lignan components of flaxseed (not flaxseed oil) may possess antioxidant properties and alter estrogen activity.

As a source of fiber, flaxseed (not flaxseed oil) has laxative properties. In large doses, or when taken without enough water, flaxseed may cause bowel obstruction. The effects of flaxseed on blood sugar levels are unclear.

Flaxseed oil contains only the ALA component of flaxseed and not the fiber or lignan components. Therefore, flaxseed oil may share the potential cholesterol-lowering properties of flaxseed, but not the proposed laxative or anticancer abilities.

This evidence-based monograph was prepared by The Natural Standard Research Collaboration