Natural remedies for menopause are becoming more popular and one of the most promising of these is flaxseed. Whether taken in its natural seed form, ingested in oil form, or eaten as a baked good flaxseed is increasingly shown to have many health benefits. For menopausal women leery of taking hormone replacement therapy, and who want something more natural, flaxseed may offer an alternative remedy.
As with any substance natural or otherwise, it is important to learn more and consult with a doctor before taking.
What is flaxseed?
Flaxseed is the current media darling with numerous articles pointing out how flaxseed is believed to lower LDL cholesterol levels (the so-called bad cholesterol). This tiny seed is showing up in everything from cookies to breads.
Flaxseeds come from the flax plant; a grass like plant that grows in North America’s Midwest. Each little seed contains soluble fiber as well as alpha linolenic acid - an omega-3 fatty acid. Flaxseed contains no gluten which is good news for those suffering from celiac disease. Of special note for menopausal women, flaxseeds also contain plant chemicals called phytoestrogens.
When phytoestrogens are consumed they are converted into compounds that act very much like the estrogen compounds found in the body. Phytoestrogens perform the same tasks as regular estrogen, but on a much weaker scale. This is why some women prefer to take natural remedies that contain phytoestrogens. Women get the benefits of estrogen without the potential for side-effects that come from the stronger versions of estrogen in most typical hormone replacement therapy options.
Flaxseed and menopause symptoms
Current research into flaxseed benefits is still in the earliest stages, but scientists believe that flaxseed can help reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. A recent study conducted at the University of Toronto showed women with breast cancer who consumed 25 grams of flaxseed a day experienced a reduction in the growth of cancerous tumors.
At the Mayo Clinic in 2007, women suffering from hot flashes were given flaxseed in place of traditional estrogen. These women wanted to avoid taking estrogen due to the side effect of increased risk for developing breast cancer. When these women took flaxseed, they reported that the severity and frequency of their hot flashed diminished after a few weeks.
Some might argue that flaxseed, as with estrogen or any other therapy, can act as a placebo. Longer term studies will be needed to explore the benefits of flaxseed and its use over a longer period of time. But for women seeking an alternative to estrogen, flaxseed is seen as an important breakthrough in natural healing.
Getting enough flaxseed
Flaxseeds can be ground into a powder using a coffee grinder, or simply added whole to baked goods such as cookies, breads, and muffins. Flaxseed oil can be taken straight, or used in place of oils in salad dressings like canola or olive oils. All it takes is about two tablespoonfuls of ground flaxseed a day to meet the recommended requirements. Pregnant and nursing women should be careful not to consume too much flaxseed because how it affects the fetus or newborn is unknown.
Flaxseed is one of many options women have today when deciding on a course of treatment for menopause. It is an alternative for women who prefer to take something natural and who want to avoid the risks associated with taking estrogen hormone replacement therapy. Women no longer have to settle for one remedy but can choose the form of therapy that is right for them.
Menopause, Your Doctor, and You