Linseed oil, is a colourless to yellowish oil obtained from the dried, ripened seeds of the flax plant. The oil is obtained by pressing, sometimes followed by solvent extraction. Boiled linseed oil is heated and treated with chemicals that make it unfit for human consumption. Linseed oil and flaxseed oil are both derived from the same plant, but oils may differ because of the way they are processed. Flax-based oils are sought after as food because of their high levels of a-Linolenic acid (a particular form of omega-3 fatty acid), but it is important that only food-grade oil be used for food.
Linseed oil is a drying oil, meaning it can polymerize into a solid form. Due to its polymer-forming properties, linseed oil is used on its own or blended with other oils, resins, and solvents as an impregnator and varnish in wood finishing, as a pigment binder in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty, and in the manufacture of linoleum. Linseed oil use has declined over the past several decades with increased availability of synthetic alkyd resins—which function similarly but resist yellowing.Linseed oil is an edible oil marketed as a nutritional supplement. In parts of Europe, it is traditionally eaten with potatoes and quark (cheese). It is regarded as a delicacy due to its hearty taste, which enhances the flavour of quark, which is otherwise bland.
Linseed Oil Benefits
Lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and control high blood pressure:
Several studies indicate that linseed oil, as well as ground linseeds, can lower cholesterol, thereby significantly reducing the risk of heart disease. Taking linseed oil may also protect against angina (chest pain) and high blood pressure. In addition, a five-year study done recently at Boston's Simmons College found that linseed oil may be useful in preventing a second heart attack. It may also help prevent elevated blood pressure by inhibiting inflammatory reactions that cause artery-hardening plaque and poor circulation.
Counter inflammation associated with gout, lupus and fibrocystic breasts:
Omega-3 fatty acids appear to limit the inflammatory reaction associated with these conditions. In cases of lupus, linseed oil not only reduces inflammation in the joints, skin and kidneys, but also lowers cholesterol levels that may be elevated by the disease. Taking linseed oil for gout may lessen the often sudden and severe joint pain or swelling that is a symptom of this condition. In addition, the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to boost the absorption of iodine (a mineral often found in low levels in women suffering from fibrocystic breasts) makes linseed oil potentially valuable for treating this often painful condition.
Control constipation, haemorrhoids, diverticular disorders and gallstones:
As they are high in dietary fibre, ground linseeds can help ease the passage of stools and thus relieve constipation, haemorrhoids and diverticular disease. In those with diverticular disease, linseeds may also keep intestinal pouches free of waste and thus keep potential infection at bay. Taken for inflammatory bowel disease, linseed oil can help to calm inflammation and repair any intestinal tract damage. In addition, the oil may prevent painful gallstones from developing and even dissolve existing stones.
Treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, sunburn and rosacea:
The essential fatty acids in linseed oil are largely responsible for its skin-healing powers. Red, itchy patches of eczema, psoriasis and rosacea often respond to the EFA's anti-inflammatory actions and overall skin-soothing properties. Sunburned skin may heal faster when treated with the oil as well. In cases of acne, the EFAs encourage thinning of the oily sebum that clogs pores.
Promote healthy hair and nails:
The abundant omega-3 fatty acids in linseed oil have been shown to contribute to healthy hair growth. Hair problems exacerbated by psoriasis or eczema of the scalp may respond to the skin-revitalizing and anti-inflammatory actions of linseed oil as well. Similarly, the oil's EFAs work to nourish dry or brittle nails, stopping them from cracking or splitting.
Minimise nerve damage that causes numbness and tingling as well as other disorders:
The EFAs in linseed oil assist in the transmission of nerve impulses, making the oil potentially valuable in treating conditions of numbness and tingling. The oil's nerve-nourishing actions may also help in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative disorder of the nervous system, and protect against the nerve damage associated with diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Reduce cancer risk and guard against the effects of ageing:
The lignans in linseed appear to play a role in protecting against breast, colon, prostate, and perhaps skin cancer. Although further studies are needed, research undertaken at the University of Toronto indicates that women with breast cancer, regardless of the degree of cancer invasiveness, may benefit from treatment with linseed. Interestingly, the lignans may protect against various effects of ageing as well.
Treat menopausal symptoms, menstrual cramps, female infertility and endometriosis:
Because the hormone-balancing lignans and plant estrogens in linseed help stabilise a woman's estrogen-progesterone ratio, they can have beneficial effects on the menstrual cycle, and relieve the hot flashes of perimenopause and menopause. linseed may also improve uterine function and thus treat fertility problems. In addition, the essential fatty acids in linseed have been shown to block production of prostaglandins, hormonelike substances that, when released in excess amounts during menstruation, can cause the heavy bleeding associated with endometriosis.
Fight prostate problems, male infertility and impotence:
The EFAs in linseed oil may help to prevent swelling and inflammation of the prostate, the small gland located below the bladder in males that tends to enlarge with age. Symptoms of such enlargement, such as urgency to urinate, may lessen as a result. The EFAs also play a role in keeping sperm healthy, which may be of value in treating male infertility, and they can improve blood flow to the penis, a boon for those suffering from impotence.
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