You've probably heard any number of old sayings about getting too much of a good thing. It's possible to take so much flaxseed or flaxseed oil that you experience flaxseed oil side effects-but most people have to work at it. Here are five things every user of flaxseed and flaxseed oil needs to know.
- Diarrhea. If you take more than about 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil a day, you probably will experience diarrhea. That's 30 grams, or thirty 1,000-mg capsules, about 10 times what most nutrition experts recommend.
- Dyspepsia. If you have any kind of inflammatory bowel disease or if you have irritable bowel syndrome, whole flaxseeds are probably not for you. Whole flaxseeds pass through the stomach undigested, and can lodge in the lining of the intestines. Flaxseed oil, on the other hand, may actually be helpful, if taken in doses of no more than 5 grams (1 teaspoon, or five 1,000 mg capsules) every day.
- Bleeding. Excessive use of flaxseed oil can result in bleeding, but it isn't just the oil that causes the problem. If you get both a very high dose of omega-3 essential fatty acids from flaxseed oil, and you essentially eliminate all other sources of fat from your diet, then your body may not make all the hormones needed to activate platelets to stop bleeding.
- Allergies. It's rare, but possible, to have an allergic reaction to flaxseed or cold-pressed flaxseed oil. Signs of allergy are itching, tingling, hives, sneezing, or tightening of the throat. If you feel your throat closing for any reason, get emergency medical care.
- Malnutrition. Everyone needs a balanced diet. Consuming one food, or one supplement in excess can deplete others. Flaxseed oil can be very helpful in doses of up to about 45,000 mg (3 tablespoons or 45 ml) a day, but it's also important to remember that other foods and nutrients are important, too.
Women in their 40's may have a higher rate of flatulence after taking flaxseed oil than other groups. However, about 48 per cent of women in their 40's, according to Dr. Christine Northrup, report excessive flatulence even if they don't take flaxseed oil, so flaxseed oil for them may not be the real problem. It's more likely that a low level of undiagnosed celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) is.
If you notice easy bruising, dark stools, or easy bleeding after a cut or scrape, stop taking flaxseed oil, eat some whole grains or coconut, and make an appointment to see your doctor. If you experience uncontrollable bleeding, or if you have intense abdominal pain or headache, go to an emergency room.
How often do people experience side effects of flaxseed oil? The answer is, not very often. The people who are most likely to experience any kind of allergy to flaxseed or flaxseed oil are those who work in the plants where they are made into consumer products.