Substances & Homeopatic Remedies

Linum usitatissimum

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Int J Cancer. 2005 Sep 20;116(5):793-8.
The inhibitory effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastasis of estrogen receptor negative human breast cancer xenograftsis attributed to both its lignan and oil components.
Wang L, Chen J, Thompson LU.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Our previous studies have shown that dietary flaxseed (FS) can reduce the growth and metastasis of human estrogen receptor negative (ER-) breast cancer in nude mice. The aims of our study were to determine (i) whether the tumor inhibitory effect of FS was due to its oil (FO), lignan secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG), or both components, and (ii) whether the effect on tumor growth was related to increased lipid peroxidation. Athymic nude mice were orthotopically injected with ER- breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-435) and 8 weeks later were fed either the basal diet (BD) or BD supplemented with 10% FS, SDG, FO, or combined SDG and FO (SDG + FO) for 6 weeks. The SDG and FO levels were equivalent to the amounts in the 10% FS. Compared to the BD group, the tumor growth rate was significantly lower (p < 0.05) in the FS, FO, and SDG + FO groups, in concordance with decreased cell proliferation and increased apoptosis; however, these did not significantly relate to the lipid peroxidation, indexed as malonaldehyde (MDA), in the primary tumors. Lung metastasis incidence was reduced (16-70%) by all treatments, significantly in the FS and SDG + FO groups. The distant lymph node metastasis was significantly decreased (52%) only in the FO group. Although the total metastasis incidence was lowered (42%) significantly only in the SDG + FO group, all treatment groups did not differ significantly. In conclusion, FS reduced the growth and metastasis of established ER- human breast cancer in part due to its lignan and FO components, and not to lipid peroxidation. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005 Nov 25;
Supplementation with flax oil and vitamin C improves the outcome of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Joshi K, Lad S, Kale M, Patwardhan B, Mahadik SP, Patni B, Chaudhary A, Bhave S, Pandit A.
Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences (ISHS), University of Pune, Ganeshkhind, Pune-411007, Maharashtra, India.

Considerable clinical and experimental evidence now supports the idea that deficiencies or imbalances in certain highly unsaturated fatty acids may contribute to a range of common developmental disorders including Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Few intervention studies with LCPUFA supplementation have reported inconsistent and marginal results. This pilot study evaluates the effect of alpha linolenic acid (ALA)-rich nutritional supplementation in the form of flax oil and antioxidant emulsion on blood fatty acids composition and behavior in children with ADHD. Post-supplementation levels of RBC membrane fatty acids were significantly higher than pretreatment levels as well as the levels in control. There was significant improvement in the symptoms of ADHD reflected by reduction in total hyperactivity scores of ADHD children derived from ADHD rating scale.


Reprod Nutr Dev. 2005 Sep-Oct;45(5):549-58.
Effect of randomized supplementation with high dose olive, flax or fish oil on serum phospholipid fatty acid levels in adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Young GS, Conquer JA, Thomas R.
Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 5B6, Canada.

Dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids has been positively correlated with cardiovascular and neuropsychiatric health in several studies. The high seafood intake by the Japanese and Greenland Inuit has resulted in low ratios of the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid (AA, 20:4n-6) to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, 20:5n-3), with the Japanese showing AA:EPA ratios of approximately 1.7 and the Greenland Eskimos showing ratios of approximately 0.14. It was the objective of this study to determine the effect of supplementation with high doses (60 g) of flax and fish oils on the blood phospholipid (PL) fatty acid status, and AA/EPA ratio of individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), commonly associated with decreased blood omega-3 fatty acid levels. Thirty adults with ADHD were randomized to 12 weeks of supplementation with olive oil (< 1% omega-3 fatty acids), flax oil (source of alpha-linolenic acid; 18:3n-3; alpha-LNA) or fish oil (source of EPA and docosahexaenoic acid; 22:6n-3; DHA). Serum PL fatty acid levels were determined at baseline and at 12 weeks. Flax oil supplementation resulted in an increase in alpha-LNA and a slight decrease in the ratio of AA/EPA, while fish oil supplementation resulted in increases in EPA, DHA and total omega-3 fatty acids and a decrease in the AA/EPA ratio to values seen in the Japanese population. These data suggest that in order to increase levels of EPA and DHA in adults with ADHD, and decrease the AA/EPA ratio to levels seen in high fish consuming populations, high dose fish oil may be preferable to high dose flax oil. Future study is warranted to determine whether correction of low levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is of therapeutic benefit in this population.


Atherosclerosis. 2005 Apr;179(2):269-75. Epub 2005 Jan 26.
Hypocholesterolemic and antiatherosclerotic effect of flax lignan complex isolated from flaxseed.
Prasad K.
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, 107 Wiggins Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5E5. prasadk@sask.usask.ca

Hypercholesterolemia, low HDL-C and oxygen radicals have been implicated in the development of atherosclerosis. Lignan complex isolated from flaxseed contains secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG), 3-hydroxy-3methylglutaric acid (HMGA) and cinnamic acids. SDG and cinnamic acids are antioxidants, and HMGA is a hypocholesterolemic agent. Antioxidants are known to reduce hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis. The objectives of this study were to determine if lignan complex reduces (i) serum cholesterol, (ii) oxidative stress, and (iii) atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. Rabbits were assigned to four groups: Group I, control; Group II, lignan complex control (lignan complex, 40 mg/kg body weight daily orally); Group III, 0.5% cholesterol; Group IV, 0.5% cholesterol diet+lignan complex, (40 mg/kg body weight daily orally). Blood samples were collected before (time 0) and after 1 and 2 months of experimental diets for measurement of serum triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), LDL-C, HDL-C and serum malondialdehyde (MDA), a lipid peroxidation product. At the end of the protocol, the aorta was removed for measurement of atherosclerotic plaques, MDA and aortic tissue chemiluminescence (Aortic CL), a marker of antioxidant reserve. Rabbits in Group III developed atherosclerosis (50.84+/-6.23% of the intimal surface of the aorta was covered with atherosclerotic changes) which was associated with an increase in the serum TG, TC, LDL-C, HDL-C, MDA and aortic MDA and antioxidant reserve. Lignan complex reduced the development of atherosclerosis by 34.37% and this was associated with a decrease in serum TC by 20%, LDL-C by 14%, TC/HDL-C by 34%, serum MDA by 35% and aortic MDA by 58%. Serum HDL-C was elevated by 30% in hypercholesterolemic rabbits and by 25% in normocholesterolemic rabbits with lignan complex. Lignan complex did not affect the TC and LDL-C and serum MDA in the normocholesterolemic rabbits. However, it increased the aortic MDA in the normocholesterolemic rabbits. These results suggest that lignan complex isolated from flaxseed reduced the extent of hypercholesterolemic atherosclerosis and this effect was associated with marked decreases in oxidative stress, serum total cholesterol, LDL-C and risk ratio, and elevation of serum HDL-C. Lignan complex may, therefore, be beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis, and reducing risk factors for coronary artery disease and stroke.


Nutr Rev. 2004 Jan;62(1):18-27.  
Flaxseed and cardiovascular risk.
Bloedon LT, Szapary PO.
School of Nursing, The Center for Experimental Therapeutics, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6021, USA.

Flaxseed has recently gained attention in the area of cardiovascular disease primarily because it is the richest known source of both alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the phytoestrogen, lignans, as well as being a good source of soluble fiber. Human studies have shown that flaxseed can modestly reduce serum total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations, reduce postprandial glucose absorption, decrease some markers of inflammation, and raise serum levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, ALA and eicosapentaenoic acid. Data on the antiplatelet, antioxidant, and hypotensive effects of flaxseed, however, are inconclusive. More research is needed to define the role of this functional food in reducing cardiovascular risk.


J Ren Nutr. 2001 Oct;11(4):183-93.
Protective effects of dietary phytoestrogens in chronic renal disease.
Ranich T, Bhathena SJ, Velasquez MT.
Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension, Department of Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20037, USA.

Phytoestrogens are naturally occuring plant compounds that are present primarily in soybeans as isoflavones and in flaxseed as lignans. Because of their structural similarity to endogenous estrogens, phytoestrogens bind to both estrogen receptors (ER)-alpha and beta (but more strongly to ER-beta) and exert estrogen-like effects. There is increasing evidence that dietary phytoestrogens have a beneficial role in chronic renal disease. Nutritional intervention studies have shown that consumption of soy-based protein and flaxseed reduces proteinuria and attenuates renal functional or structural damage in animals and humans with various forms of chronic renal disease. It is not clear which component(s) of the soybean or flaxseed is (are) responsible for the protective effects observed in experimental animals and in limited studies in humans. Vegetable protein has been shown to have a beneficial effect on renal disease in animals and humans. Thus, the role of soy and flaxseed cannot be ruled out. Isoflavones and lignans are readily absorbed from the gut and converted to active metabolites, which may be partly responsible for the beneficial renal effects of soy protein and flaxseed. In addition, an interaction between type of protein and phytoestrogens is also possible. The biological actions of isoflavones and lignans have been well defined in different cell types in vitro and also in vivo, but how these compounds might reduce renal injury remains to be elucidated. Possible mechanisms include inhibition of cell growth and proliferation via ER-mediated mechanisms or non-ER-mediated pathways through inhibition of tyrosine protein kinases, modulation of growth factors involved in extracellular matrix synthesis and fibrogenesis, inhibition of cytokine-induced activation of transcription factors, inhibition of angiogenesis, antioxidative action, suppression of platelet activating factor and platelet aggregation, and immunomodulatory activity. To date, clinical trials in humans are few, of relatively short duration, and involve a small number of patients