Flax seed for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction
The flax plant is believed to originally come from Egypt, where ancient Egyptians It now grows all over Canada and in the northwestern part of the U.S. The seeds and oil from the seeds are used as natural remedy and herbal treatment.
Flax Seed and Flax Seed Oil is commonly used as a laxative and to help with hot flashes and breast pain. It is also used in people who have high cholesterol and several disorders of the stomach and colon.
Flax Seed is sometimes called linseed.
Flax seed and Migraines
Like all natural remedies, Flax Seeds contain a wide range of compounds that may be responsible for its properties. Three main ingredients in Flax Seeds are believed to contribute to their helpful properties:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, the good fats help with brain function and may cut the risk of heart disease
- Lignans, chemicals found in plants that act like estrogen that protect cells
- Fiber, roughage – the part of food the body doesn’t digest which helps ease bowel movements
- Whole flax seed
- Ground flax seed
- Soft gels
- Oil (which needs to be refrigerated)
Foods containing flax seeds
Several foods have flax seeds added to it, including:
- Baked goods
- Snack foods
- Chewing gum
Side effects of Flax Seed
- Increased bowel movements
- Stomach ache/abdominal pain
- Diarrhea or constipation
Overdose of Flax Seed can cause:
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid breathing
- Difficulty walking
- Intestinal blockage because the laxative effects cause additional bulk (take with plenty of water to avoid this)
Who should not take Flax Seed for migraines
Unripened Flax Seed pods are believed to be poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten. Raw Flax Seed or Flax Seed plant can increase levels of the dangerous chemical cyanide in the blood – this hasn’t been observed when supplements are taken at recommended doses.
Flax Seed or Flax Seed Oil should not be put on broken skin or open wounds and should be avoided by people with high triglycerides.
Flax Seed should not be used by people who suffer from diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease because of it works as a laxative. People with diabetes should discuss it with their doctor before taking Flax Seed because it may increase blood sugar levels.
Flax Seed and Flax Seed oil may cause diarrhea. And because it contains a lot of fiber, Flax Seed must be taken with a lot of water, or it may worsen constipation or in severe cases cause intestinal blockage.
Flax Seed’s fiber may reduce the body’s ability to absorb oral medications. Therefore, it should not be taken within two hours of any other medications taken by mouth or with any other supplements.
Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding should not take Flax Seed. Because it can have effects similar to estrogen, some doctors believe it can be dangerous to the pregnancy.
Use caution if you have a hormone-sensitive cancer and check with your doctor before using Flax Seed.
As with many herbal supplements and natural migraine remedies, Flax Seed hasn’t been studied enough in children and therefore shouldn’t be given to children.
Flax Seed, its oils and powders should be used with caution and only after consulting a doctor, in people who have or are taking:
- Cancer of the breast, uterus or ovary
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Uterine fibroids
- Bleeding disorders
- Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression)
- Narrowing of the esophagus or intestine
- Ileus (intestinal obstruction) or bowel obstruction
- Drugs that increase the risk of bleeding
- Mood stabilizers such as lithium
People who are planning to undergo surgical, medical or dental procedures should alert their doctors and stop taking Flax Seed before taking Flax Seed.
Men with prostate cancer or at risk of prostate cancer should not take Flax Seed or its supplements.
As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.