Flaxseeds deserve their reputation as a “medicine food” or ” superfood. Flax Seeds can improve digestive health, lower blood pressure, and bad cholesterol, reduce cancer risk, and improve glycemic control. Studies show that supplementing with flaxseed or oil may also help improve skin hydration and counteract wrinkles, inflammation, and dermatitis.
How To Use Them
For external use, being an emollient with occlusive properties, linseed oil works better and faster when the skin is water-rich, for example, after a shower or bath. For application, a few drops are sufficient (for example, 3-4 drops for the skin of the face), pure or added to the moisturizing body cream. As we will see, flaxseed oil is very beneficial for the skin (as well as general health) even when taken orally. In this case, a spoonful daily is enough to add raw to your favorite dish.
Whole flaxseed is a richer source of lignans and is a better choice than oil due to its fiber content. However, they must be chewed to ensure that more of the oil and nutrients are absorbed.
Studies And Benefits
In one study, flaxseed oil (taken for 12 weeks at a dose of 2.2 grams of total fat per day) improved skin hydration and reduced transcutaneous water loss by approximately 10% after 6 weeks of integration. Additionally, skin surface assessment revealed that roughness and scaling were significantly decreased. Similar benefits were noted in another small study. The research involved 13 healthy women with sensitive skin, finding that ingesting flaxseed oil for 12 weeks improved skin properties.
In particular, it produced a significant decrease in skin sensitivity, transepidermal water loss, roughness, and desquamation, with increased hydration (+39%) and skin smoothness. The authors have identified alpha-linolenic acid as the main bioactive responsible for these beneficial effects on the skin and aging. On the other hand, in both studies, the flaxseed oil intake increased the ALA levels in the blood.
Omega-3s appear to improve skin barrier function, on the one hand, reducing moisture loss and, on the other hand preventing the entry of irritants. High omega-3 intakes have also been linked to a lower risk of atopic dermatitis in infants and improvement in psoriasis symptoms in adults. However, other studies have yet to be able to replicate these findings. A study investigated the effects of fermented linseed oil (FFSO), orally administered at 0.2 g/kg per day to mice with lesions similar to those induced by atopic dermatitis. Flaxseed oil helped reduce signs and symptoms such as redness, skin damage, eczema, swelling, and itching.
Omega-3s can protect against damage from ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun. Studies have shown that DHA and EPA supplementation can reduce the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays. As we have seen, EPA and DHA are omega-3 fatty acids that can be obtained from fish or indirectly by converting ALA, which is abundant in flaxseed (although this conversion capacity is poor in the human body).
A cream containing a phenolic-rich flaxseed extract promoted wound healing in Wistar rats. A review of 10 studies claims that flaxseed oil formulations positively affect wound healing. However, extensive studies are required to find suitable formulations to enhance the absorption of the bioactive compounds contained in flaxseed oil.
An eating routine wealthy in omega-3s can help forestall or diminish the seriousness of skin breaks out. As in the case of dermatitis, the anti-inflammatory activity of these fats can help fight acne, albeit indirectly. Some studies have reported decreased acne lesions when supplementing with omega-3s, either alone or in combination with other nutrients.
Omega-3 enhancements decrease the results of isotretinoin, a medication normally used to treat extreme or safe skin inflammation. Additionally, research suggests that consuming foods rich in lignans can balance androgen levels, excesses of which can lead to the onset or worsening of acne. For example, in a study of a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome, flaxseed supplementation (30 g/day) reduced androgen levels with a concomitant reduction in hirsutism.
Lignans can hinder the activity of the enzyme 5 α-reductase (responsible for converting testosterone to dihydrotestosterone). This effect can be useful in counteracting androgenetic alopecia, which represents the most common form of baldness. In a rat study, flaxseed exhibited significant antiandrogenic properties, resulting in a significant decrease in testosterone levels and prostate size (a telltale sign of anti-dihydrotestosterone activity. In other studies, rats given testosterone to induce prostate enlargement were partially protected from this effect by flaxseed supplementation.