Concern over gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach ulcers and myocardial infarction associated with the nonselective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, used for treating arthritic joint pain, has prompted the use of dietary supplements for the treatment of chronic inflammatory pain.
One such alternative supplement is flaxseed or linseed oil, rich in natural anti-inflammatory agents like alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a compound related to omega-3 fatty acids and powerful antioxidants like lignans that protect our body against chronic pain associated with arthritis.
Treatment Of Arthritis With Flax Seed Oil
Different ways of incorporating flax seed oil into your diet:
Even though many bread makers add flax seeds as one of their ingredients, in cereals, snack bars, flax seed oil is also found in many health stores as a stand-alone product, available in dark or opaque bottles, since exposure to light and heat can easily degenerate the essential omega-3 fatty acids, rendering it ineffective in treating arthritis. To avoid it from turning rancid, store it in the refrigerator and protect it from heat. Also, constantly keep monitoring the product’s expiration date to check for spoilage. A bad smell and rancidity indicates that the oil must be discarded immediately.
The distortion of the molecular structure of the flax seed oil by heat makes it unsuitable to be used for cooking. Frying or baking with flax seed oil can break down the components of the oil, making it less effective. However, there are other easier ways of introducing flax seed oil into your diet, some of which have been listed below.
As A Part Of Your Breakfast
The best way of consuming flax seed oil on a daily basis is to make it a part of your breakfast by using it as a topping on your morning cereal, fruits or can be added to a glass of fruit juice. Another way is to blend flaxseed oil with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese, since the essential fats present in the oil are better absorbed by the body when bound to the protein in cottage cheese.
Moreover, the nutty flavor of flaxseed oil when complemented by the cheese flavor helps you enhance the flavor of this healthy dish. Also, if you are using smoothies to cut back on those extra pounds, then try adding some flax oil to it that not only helps in treating arthritic joint pains, but also helps in gearing up your digestive system for the rest of the day.
The nutty taste that flax seed oil imparts has popularized its usage with many healthy starters like oats tikki, baby corn satay, etc., to complement and enhance their flavor.
On Your Salad
Your regular dressings can be substituted by a healthy flax seed oil-based salad dressing to extract its benefits on a daily basis. It can be made by blending 1/2 cup of flaxseed oil and 1/2 cup of olive oil with freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. The leftover dressing can be refrigerated and re-used on the next day.
Serve Flax Seed Oil With Oats
While making an oatmeal, you should consider replacing butter or milk with a teaspoon of flax seed oil that not only gives oats a creamy flavor without adding any saturated fats, but also provides your body with good fats, thus helping you extract its benefits for treating arthritis. Besides, oats are known for their high fiber content and for absorbing bile salts, as it travels slowly through your digestive track. This helps in the detoxification of your liver that in turn, helps in mitigating the symptoms associated with arthritis.
You can also add flax seed oil on a slice of toasted oat bread and rub half a clove of raw garlic across the bread for a nutty garlic toast. Before using peanut butter on oat bread, add a few drops of flax seed oil to to thin it out and for balancing the consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. While making pancakes use whole oats and flax seed oil to reduce the consumption of carbohydrates thus, making your pancakes nutrient-dense and giving them an extra bit of texture.
Since, flax seed oil is made up of gluten, it is also suitable for being used in any vegetarian’s diet, for making omelette, vegetables, tofu, etc.
As A Topical Formulation
Application of flaxseed oil or a compress (a paste made by mixing flaxseed flour in hot water) to the affected areas, has also been found effective in reducing arthritic joint pains. However, one should avoid contact with any open wounds or sores.
Despite its benefits, researchers studying the potential of flaxseed oil in treating arthritis have shown that it is safe to use flax seed oil only for three months as a dietary supplement, since it can go beyond tolerable levels, if continued for a year on a daily basis. While consuming flax seed oil, one should ensure that they do no exceed the recommended therapeutic dosage of a daily consumption of 15-30ml or 1 to 2 tablespoons of flax seed oil or 1-2 capsules.
However, before incorporating it in your diet, it is important to ask your health care provider for the right amount of flax seed oil to avoid complications, resulting from its interactions with other medications like anticoagulants (aspirin, heparin, warfarin, etc), immunosuppressant drugs like cyclosporine, cholesterol-lowering medications or other blood-thinning supplements such as garlic, since omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil can enhance the thinning of blood.
Patients with bleeding disorders should use flaxseed oil cautiously, due to the increase in the chances of bleeding complications. Pregnant women, children under 18, diabetic patients and people suffering from schizophrenia may not be able to easily convert the alpha-linolenic acid to EPA and DHA, the compounds responsible for anti-inflammatory action in the body, making it difficult for them to extract the benefits of flaxseed oil. Flax seed oil, being a powerful laxative, may also increase the effectiveness of laxatives and result in diarrhea. Allergies like bowl obstruction, stomach discomfort, breathing difficulties, skin rashes, dehydration and a hypersensitivity to flax seed have also been reported.
In conclusion, regular use of flax seed oil not only helps in relieving the symptoms of arthritis but also leads to a general improvement in your health, provided it is taken in the right amount, under the strict supervision of your doctor. Moreover, flax oil has also been shown to help relieve the symptoms of gout.joint pain