Flax Seed for Hot Flashes?

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Funny thing about headlines, they take a snippet out of context and turn it into an attention-grabbing conclusion. Unfortunately we are so overloaded with information, few of us have time to read any further.

What we’ve seen lately is that “Flaxseed Doesn’t Help Hot Flashes.” What we don’t see is that the study focused on drug-induced hot flashes. “In both groups, a little over a third of the women experienced a 50% reduction in their hot flash scores.” Pretty good.

The original article on this study in medscape.com is well written and thorough. Of the participants, 50% were on aromatase inhibitors, and 25% were receiving tamoxifen, both of which have the common side effect of hot flashes.

Another important factor is that they ate a flax seed bar, not ground flax seed as done in previous studies. According to the Mayo Clinic, in its whole form, flax seed is not readily broken down and acts more as a fiber source. This would contribute to the reason so many women in the study complained of gas and bloating.

Attempting to relieve drug-induced side effects with a natural resource may be doomed to failure, but that’s one of the things they were trying to learn. In the 2007 pilot study, “the number of daily hot flashes were halved in the women taking flaxseed. In addition, the intensity of the hot flashes dropped by 57%.

In that study, the women ate 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed twice daily, mixed into their cereal, juice, fruit, or yogurt.” There was a difference in the delivery of the flaxseed, and these women were not on antiestrogen meds.

While headlines can be misleading, and more studies need to be done, don’t give up hope for relief. If you have concerns about extra fiber, flaxseed oil can be another option.

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However, do not use flaxseed if you are pregnant, breast feeding or planning to become pregnant. Consult with your doctor if you are taking medications, have allergies to medicines or foods, or if you have history of gastrointestinal problems such as intestinal blockage, ileus, swelling or stricture of the esophagus, appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease, IBS or Crohn’s.

Here are some cooling tips on flaxseed:

  • 2 tablespoons of organic flaxseed oil on daily salads and/or veggies, or in a smoothie
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly ground seed twice a day mixed into cereal, juice, fruit, yogurt or a smoothie, or other recipes
  • Keep flaxseed products refrigerated after opening.
  • Purchase products in a sealed container, not in bulk, as flaxseed can go rancid quickly.
  • Don’t cook with it, as it burns quickly, breaking down the omega 3.
  • If you have a grinder, grind enough to use for a couple of days & keep it tightly sealed & refrigerated.

Have you tried flaxseed for hot flashes? What were the results?

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