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Finally - The Facts on Flax

Flaxseed Therapy and Hot Flashes

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Updated December 13, 2007

Once you reach menopause, you start asking yourself questions about which supplements and what hormones you want to consider to manage your symptoms. It can get pretty confusing. And with the jury still out on estrogen therapy – whether it is safe, and who’s a good candidate – lots of women want to know about effective alternatives to hormone replacement.

Usually the research on alternative therapies is scanty or inconclusive. Or worse yet, studies may find that the alternative therapy doesn’t work at all, or is even harmful. One bright note in all this murkiness is a 2007 study from the Mayo Clinic that makes flaxseed look like a pretty attractive alternative to hormone replacement for women having hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. It was a small study, and not blind or placebo controlled, but it offers enough promise to point the way for more research.

What Did Flaxseed Do?

The Mayo study showed that twenty-one women who consumed 40 grams of ground flaxseed daily had a significant decrease in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes. The women’s hot flashes were scored over a period of six weeks, and those who took the flaxseed showed a 50% decrease in the frequency of flashes, and a 57% decrease in their “flash score” overall, resulting in major improvements in their quality of life. Participants in the study even noticed improvements in their mood and in joint and muscle pain.

Flaxseed is particularly promising as a treatment for menopause symptoms because it is a plant estrogen containing both omega-3 fatty acids and lingans. Omega three fatty acids are known to be protective in heart disease, and lingans contain antioxidants that are being studied for their ability to prevent cancer. Flaxseed also seems to have some anti-estrogen qualities that could decrease the risk of breast cancer.

Is Flaxseed Something You Should Try?

Think of it – fewer flashes, decreased heart disease and lower cancer risk. Flaxseed may turn out to be an ideal “multi-tasking” treatment for several common menopausal woes. If you are having trouble with hot flashes, mood problems or muscle pain, you might want to give it a try.

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For more information on this pilot study, check out the study
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