What Everyone Needs To Know About Linseed Oil
Linseed oil – more often referred to as flaxseed oil these days – is a vegetable oil extracted from the dried and ripened seed pods of the flax plant by crushing and pressing. The oil is rich in alpha-lineolic acid (ALA), which makes up around 50% of the product.
The main problem with this oil is that it goes rancid on exposure to oxygen and needs to be refrigerated. For this reason, it is not really used in mainstream skin care products, although it is advocated for topical use and as a food supplement. It is, however, listed as an ingredient in many home made skin care recipes, so you need to be aware of potential problems.
Due to its abundance in ALA, linseed/flaxseed oil is recommended as a supplement to ease joint pain and control internal inflammation, and some marketers promote it as an anti-aging supplement. However, you should never take or apply topically anything containing cooked linseed or flaxseed oil – the heating process renders the oil toxic, as lead oxide is used.
When taken internally, the oil has a number of distressing and even dangerous side effects. It can cause diarrhoea and nausea, and affect the clotting capability of the blood. This means users may experience more bruising than normal, and people taking anti coagulant drugs such as warfarin and even low doses of aspirin should avoid it. Non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and cholesterol lowering medication may also interact unfavourably with linseed/flaxseed oil.
When used topically, or within a skin care preparation, linseed/flaxseed oil may cause allergic reactions and break outs. Linseed/flaxseed oil is a dry oil and easily absorbed by the skin, but it appears that a number of people can’t tolerate the product, and it’s not just those with pre existing skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
There are a number of horror stories online regarding the topical use of linseed/flaxseed oil. As with many products, it should not be applied to broken skin or unhealed, open wounds.
While it’s unlikely that you will purchase any mainstream brands of cosmetics and skin care products containing linseed/flaxseed oil, it helps to be aware of the potential side effects and risks associated with the product. It proves once again that ‘natural’ does not always mean ‘healthy and safe,’ and reinforces the expert advice to be very careful about what you put into and onto your body.
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