What you will learn in this article:
- History of flaxseed
- Harvesting flaxseed
- How flaxseed got a bad rep
- Flaxseed is estrogenic, so it’s bad for me?
- How does flaxseed work as an “estrogenic adaptogen”
- The amazing healing benefits of flaxseed
– Helps with estrogen dominance
– Helps menopause and postmenopause
– Helps reduce risk and growth of estrogenic cancers
– Source of insoluble and soluble fiber
– Anti-inflammatory agent
– Cardiovascular health
- Best ways to use (and not to use) flaxseed
What about flaxseed oil?
- Who may get a negative response to flaxseed?
- Flaxseed for men?
- Bottom line – know your sources!
Few foods are as controversial as flaxseed. Some women swear by it, others fear it.
In this article, I will lay out the science and the oversimplification of information that has earned flaxseed its bad reputation. After reading this article, I hope you give this seed a well-deserved consideration.
History of flaxseed
“Flaxseed is one of the oldest crops, having been cultivated since the beginning of civilization (Laux 2011). The Latin name of the flaxseed is Linum usitatissimum, which means “very useful”. Flax was first introduced in the United States by colonists, primarily to produce fiber for clothing (Laux 2011).
Every part of the flaxseed plant is utilized commercially, either directly or after processing. The stem yields good quality fibers having high strength and durability (Singh et al. 2011). Flax has been used until the 1990s principally for the fabrication of clothes (linen) and papers, while flaxseed oil and its sub-products are used in animal feed formulation (Singh et al. 2011). There is a small difference in using the terms flaxseed and linseed. Flaxseed is used to describe flax when consumed as food by humans while linseed is used to describe flax when it is used in the industry and feed purpose (Morris 2008).” Source
Have you ever seen flaxseed available anywhere other than a supermarket?
If you live in Canada or North Dakota where the majority of flaxseed is grown, you might have seen fields of these pretty purple flowers.
The flowers then transform into pods. Each pod holds between 6 and 8 flaxseeds. They get picked and shaken out of their pods.
Like with many foods, flaxseed can be a powerful, healing food that can help women, especially those struggling with their hormones. You will also learn that some women should not use it.
How flaxseed got a bad reputation
Flaxseed got a bad rep from the blogosphere – mainly for being called “estrogenic” and therefore “causing cancers” and hormonal problems in women. This could not be further from the truth (most of the time, see more below) and I have therefore spent hours researching and writing the below article to show you otherwise.
Just because something is estrogenic, does not make it a bad thing right away. Yes, skincare products containing parabens and phthalates are estrogenic and that’s not a form of estrogen you should ever be exposed to. These forms of estrogens, also known as xenoestrogens, have been linked to cancers.
The blogosphere has concluded that if flaxseed is estrogenic, then it must be as bad as the synthetic estrogens found in these toxic products.
This is an oversimplification. It makes no sense to compare a plant-derived estrogen with a synthetically-derived estrogen. Unfortunately, this is shabby journalism, poor research, and a pure laziness to fact-check.
It’s important to check where you are getting your information from. I searched for medical studies that show the harmful effects of flaxseed on women and…found none. Bloggers and social media “writers” who make such claims offer no citations. Be leery when a writer states “studies show” and offers no links to substantiating resources.
It’s a real shame because hundreds of thousands of readers are missing out on a food that can not only help with a ton of symptoms but could even save lives.
Having said that, there is a sliver of people who, like with many other foods, have a “paradoxical” response to flaxseed – more on that below. These people, however, are in a vast minority.
Bottom line: Be selective where you get your information from and whom you choose to trust.
Flaxseed is estrogenic, so it’s bad for me?
There is a fear of estrogen-containing foods, such as flaxseed, which is not only wrong and unjust but can also prevent you from reversing symptoms of estrogen dominance quickly and effectively.
Just because you experience estrogen dominance, does not mean you should stop ingesting gentle plant-based estrogens. You need estrogen – as a woman you need it to have healthy breasts, butt, periods, glowing hair, and skin, etc. The issue is not to cut out estrogen but to break it down properly.
Most women with estrogen dominance do not suffer because of too much estrogen but because they are not breaking down and evacuating these estrogens well enough. Flaxseed can help shift estrogen metabolism from the “dirty” estrogen in the direction of the “clean” ones.
The only thing you want to remove from your life as much as possible are xenoestrogens which are synthetic estrogens that mimic estrogen without doing the right work. They are found in all commercial skin care products, perfumes, and cleaning products.
Having said that, I have met a few women (they are the minority) who have a paradoxical response to flaxseed – their estrogen dominance symptoms worsen. If that’s you (be sure not to make any other significant changes during this time), please stop flaxseed and look into the supplement protocol to see how else you can support estrogen metabolism.
How does flaxseed work as an “estrogenic adaptogen”
Among all foods, flaxseed contains the highest amount of lignans, a form of polyphenols, which are high in phytoestrogens.
Let’s unpack this a little.
The word “phyto” comes from Greek and means “plant” or “that which has grown.” Therefore phytoestrogen is a plant-derived, completely natural form of estrogen.
You might have heard the word “polyphenols” being thrown around; so what is it?
Polyphenols are a group of over 500 phytochemicals which are naturally occurring micronutrients in plants. They are highly medicinal in nature and many supplement companies are cashing in on that.
Some of the polyphenols include quercetin (found in apples), catechins (in dark chocolate and cherries), lignans (in flaxseed), resveratrol (in pistachios, wine, and blueberries) and curcumin (in turmeric).
There are three types of phytoestrogens: Lignans (enterolactone, enterodiol), isoflavones (genistein, daidzein, biochanin A), and coumestans. Genistein and daidzein are found in soy, another phytoestrogen.
The highest concentration of phytoestrogens, however, is found in lignans.
When plant lignans are ingested, they can be metabolized by the intestinal bacteria in the large intestine into enterolactone. Enterolactone is the bioactive form of phytoestrogen.
It is enterolactone that binds to estrogen receptors, blocking and competing with estrogen which may help to reduce the growth of estrogenic cancers.
One of the most fascinating chemical phenomena about lignans is that can act as weak estrogen agonists (promoter), partial agonists, or as antagonists (blocker) to endogenous estrogens (internally produced) and xenoestrogens which are synthetic estrogens found in much commercial skincare, cosmetic and cleaning products.
In short, flaxseed is an estrogenic adaptogen; it can act as an estrogen amplifier or estrogen blocker depending on what the body needs.
How fascinating is that?! For that reason I coined the term “estrogenic adaptogen” – the seed adapts to what your body needs.
This explains why flaxseed has been used for a wide spectrum of women issues by menopausal and postmenopausal women by gently and naturally raising their estrogen levels as well as menstruating women who struggle with too much of the “dirty” estrogen that causes estrogen dominance (and the result is PMS, fibroids, endometriosis, thyroid nodules, etc).
I have written extensively about estrogen dominance (what it is) (what are estrogenic cancers) and I’m very passionate about it because I feel that 80% of women experience estrogen dominance at some point in their lives, yet, 80% of them don’t know that they have it.
One powerful yet simple way to use flaxseed in your daily life is the seed rotation method – you can learn about it by downloading the Seed Rotation Starter Kit.
The seed rotation method, however simple, has been one of the most popular methods used by our community. Because of the adaptogenic features of flaxseed, I see women both with too much estrogen and too little estrogen benefiting from this potent seed.
Many have reported:
- Less or no hot flashes
- Less or no night sweats
- Less or no PMS (including bloating, pain, food swings)
- Better sleep
- More regular periods
- Return of periods
- Weight loss
The amazing healing benefits of flaxseed
There is a strong body of research to support the claim that flaxseed is hugely beneficial and can change lives. Here are the reasons why I use and recommend flaxseed to women suffering from PMS, all the way to post-menopausal symptoms.
#1 Helps with estrogen dominance
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
- Irregular periods
- Heavy flows
- Terrible PMS (bloating, moods, pain, energy, headaches)
- Breast lumps
- Thyroid Nodules
- Fibrocystic and painful breasts
- Low thyroid
- Hair loss and brittle hair
- Weight gain around the hip and thighs
- Water retention
The reason why a woman experiences these is NOT that she has too much estrogen but because of how she BREAKS down these estrogens.
If you have a bit of biochemistry interest, the problematic estrogens are:
- Too much estradiol E2 (the “aggressive” estrogen) as compared to estrone E1 and estriol E3
- Estrone gets broken down to 2, 4 and 16 hydroxyestrone – 2 is protective where else 4 and 16 hydroxyestrones are antagonistic and cause symptoms of estrogen dominance.
The good news? Flaxseed has been proven to push the metabolism of these estrogens in the protective direction, hence helping with symptoms of estrogen dominance.
Flaxseed interrupts the circulation of estrogens in two ways:
- It can bind unconjugated estrogens in the digestive tract, which are then excreted in the stool.
- Beneficially affects the composition of intestinal bacteria and reduce intestinal b-glucuronidase activity, resulting in lowered estrogens via the conjugation of estrogen and reduced reabsorption.
Flaxseed also helps with:
- It inhibits aromatase activity, thus decreasing conversion of testosterone and androstenedione into estrogens in fat and breast cells.
- Women consuming 10g of flaxseed per day experienced longer menstrual cycle length, increased progesterone-to-estrogen ratios, and fewer anovulatory cycles, all of which are considered to reflect improved ovarian function.
A few studies to share with you:
– Flaxseed helps reduction of thyroid cancer
– Flaxseed alleviates PMS
– Reduction of fibroids in young women
– Flaxseed improves fertility
#2 Helps menopause and postmenopause
The adaptogenic properties of flaxseed can help women in menopause and postmenopause as well.
A few citations and benefits:
- Reduction on hot flashes and vaginal dryness
- Improved blood cholesterol
- Increased anti-inflammatory Omega 3 markers and decreased LDL cholesterol
#3 Helps reduce risk and growth of estrogenic cancers
Estrogenic cancers include ER+ (estrogen receptor positive) breast, uterine, ovarian, thyroid and lung cancers in non-smokers.
Because of its adaptogenic quality, flaxseed can attach itself to an estrogen receptor and block the growth of the cancer cells. The “dirty” estrogens are the ones that cause and fuel the growth of some cancers.
- Flaxseed reduces ER+ breast cancers: “Our results suggest that flaxseed and its lignans have potent anti-estrogenic effects on estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and may prove to be beneficial in breast cancer prevention strategies in the future.” –
- Flaxseed helps reduction of thyroid cancer
- Flaxseed reduces tumor growth and strengthened the effects of Tamoxifen: “FS inhibited the growth of human estrogen-dependent breast cancer and strengthened the tumor-inhibitory effect of TAM at both low and high E2 levels.”
#4 Source of insoluble and soluble fiber
Flaxseed is a wonderful source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and it moves through the digestive system quickly, “sweeping” the waste and debris through the colon, including metabolized and harmful hormones. It also helps to bulk up the stool which helps to create a well-formed stool. Chronic constipation is one of the causes of hormonal imbalances in women – which goes to say that a good, daily bowel movement is a prerequisite to good hormonal health.
Insoluble fiber also slows down sugar metabolism, helping balance blood sugar – one of the pillars of hormonal balance.
Soluble fiber forms a gel when combined with water, it helps you feel full and satisfied with a meal so you don’t reach out for snacks and unnecessary calories. It also stabilizes blood sugar levels, lowers LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol and is high in prebiotics – the food for probiotics.
Two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed per day will give you the above-mentioned benefits.
This study also states that: “In populations with low average intake of dietary fibre, an approximate doubling of total fibre intake from foods could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 40%”.
#5 Anti-inflammatory agent
If that was not enough, flaxseed also contains the highest level of plant-based Omega 3.
It can be beneficial but not for all – here is why. Flaxseed contains the highest levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It’s common amongst the vegans and vegetarians to say that nobody needs to eat fish for the Omega 3 because flaxseed is also very high in Omega 3. This is true but not for all.
The form of Omega 3 that the body benefits from is in the form of EPA and DHA. In the case of flaxseed and its ALA content, the body needs to convert ALA to EPA and DHA in the sufficient presence of vitamins B1 and B6, zinc, and magnesium. If a person is depleted in any of these (and many are), then flaxseed alone might not be the best source of the highly anti-inflammatory Omega 3. On the other hand, if the person is well nourished, then it is true – flaxseed can be a great source of Omega 3.
#6 Cardiovascular health
Cardiovascular health can be a concern in postmenopausal women. This study concluded: In conclusion, a high intake of phytoestrogens in postmenopausal women appears to be associated with a favorable metabolic cardiovascular risk profile.
This study states that ground flaxseed has LDL (“bad”) cholesterol-lowering properties and it improves insulin sensitivity.
Best ways to use (and not to use) flaxseed
A few tips on how to use flaxseed to reap its medicinal properties:
#1 Always buy it in seed form (not as pre-ground flax meal) and grind it freshly in a coffee or spice grinder. Grinding flaxseed makes lignans more bioavailable.
#2 Flaxseed oil does not contain lignans unless ground flaxseed has been added to it.
#3 Amount – One to two tablespoons per day of freshly ground flaxseed is the recommended medicinal dose.
Learn how to add more hormone-balancing ingredients to your meals with our FREE 19 Estrogen Balancing Superfoods Guide here.
What about flaxseed oil?
I’m not a fan of flaxseed oil for a few reasons:
- It does NOT contain lignans, which are the beneficial phytoestrogens I covered above.
- It gets oxidized very quickly and loses its medicinal properties – this is why it has to be refrigerated and kept in a dark container.
- It contains ALA only which still needs to be converted to the bioavailable Omega 3 which is in EPA and DHA form.
- It contains no fiber.
Who may get a negative response to flaxseed?
We get many emails from our readers confused why I would suggest flaxseed. As you can tell from the above narratives, why would I not?!
Having said that, I have met women who had, what is called, a paradoxical response to flaxseed. Instead of feeling better, their symptoms worsened.
It is not fully understood why some women experience an adverse reaction (from digestive issues to getting worse PMS, painful breasts and heavier periods) to flaxseed).
Here is my hypothesis on it:
#1 Food intolerances or allergies – some people have an allergy or intolerance to flaxseed, just the way it can happen with any other foods. If that’s you – do not eat flaxseed.
#2 Digestive sensitivity – Some people experience such dire digestive issues that the lignans and fiber found in the seeds might be too much to tolerate. If you are following the AIP diet, you can’t eat flaxseed until you are ready to re-introduce it when your GI tract is rebuilt.
#3 Gut bacteria – my research shows that for flaxseed to be active, it needs to be converted by a host of bacteria residing in the colon. It is likely that some people lack these beneficial bacteria and therefore don’t convert lignans to enterolactone which is the bioactive form of phytoestrogen.
Flaxseed for men?
I do not work with men so I have limited experience and feedback from men. The little research available shows that men might not be benefiting from flaxseed as much as women do. One study points out elevated prostate cancer risk and infertility.
It’s important to check where you are getting your information from. I searched for medical studies that show harmful effects of flaxseed on women and found none. I did, however, find a number of blogs that make such claims. None of them offer citations and only state “studies show.”
Be selective where you get your information from.
To know if flaxseed is your friend, it’s simple: Add it to your diet (just two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed is enough) for one to two months and see how your symptoms change.
If they improve – great! Keep going; you can use flaxseed in the long term. If you feel worse, stop it immediately.
Learn more with Overcoming Estrogen Dominance
“The body has an amazing ability to heal. We just need to give it the right resources.”
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, my goal is to empower and give you the tools to take control of your hormones and health.
More than 70% of women experience estrogen dominance. The symptoms range from lumpy and fibrocystic breasts to thyroid nodules, hot flashes, fibroids, uterine polyps, painful, heavy or irregular periods to infertility and miscarriages, from mood swings to insomnia, weight gain to fatigue.
So many women have experienced the pain and frustration that comes when, sitting in their doctor’s exam room, they feel their symptoms and complaints are dismissed or minimized. They feel unheard, helpless, with no control over their bodies or the underlying issues that are causing their debilitating symptoms. This is particularly true for women who are experiencing the symptoms of hormone imbalance. Even when doctors do offer treatment, it’s typically in the form of prescription medication or invasive surgical procedures.
In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, I hope to show that those extreme interventions are often unnecessary, and to give women a roadmap to ease and erase their symptoms using food, herbs, supplements and natural protocols to re-balance hormones.
My goal is to help reverse the impact of estrogen dominance naturally, helping you lead a symptom-free life, without fear.
To get your copy of Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, go here.
“Early Life Exposure to the Phytoestrogen Enterolactone and Breast Cancer Risk in Later Years.” Breast Cancer and The Environment Research Centers.
Horn-Ross, Pamela L., et al. “Phytoestrogens and Thyroid Cancer Risk.” Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 Jan. 2002.
Atkinson, et al. “Lignan and Isoflavone Excretion in Relation to Uterine Fibroids: a Case-Control Study of Young to Middle-Aged Women in the United States.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Dec. 2006.
“Effects of flaxseed supplementation on endometrial expression of ISG17 and intrauterine prostaglandin concentrations in primiparous dairy cows submitted to GnRH-based synchronized ovulation.” Canadian Journal of Animal Science.
Franco, Oscar H, et al. “Use of Plant-Based Therapies and Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” JAMA, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 June 2016.
Dodin, et al. “Effects of Flaxseed Dietary Supplement on Lipid Profile, Bone Mineral Density, and Symptoms in Menopausal Women: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Wheat Germ Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 1 Mar. 2005.
Jungeström, Malin Bergman, et al. “Flaxseed and Its Lignans Inhibit Estradiol-Induced Growth, Angiogenesis, and Secretion of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Human Breast Cancer Xenografts In Vivo.” Clinical Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 1 Feb. 2007.
Chen, Jianmin, et al. “Dietary Flaxseed Enhances the Inhibitory Effect of Tamoxifen on the Growth of Estrogen-Dependent Human Breast Cancer (MCF-7) in Nude Mice.” Clinical Cancer Research, American Association for Cancer Research, 15 Nov. 2004.
Bingham, Sheila A, et al. “Dietary Fibre in Food and Protection against Colorectal Cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC): an Observational Study.” Lancet (London, England), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 May 2003.
Jackson, Maria D, et al. “Urinary Phytoestrogens and Risk of Prostate Cancer in Jamaican Men.” Cancer Causes & Control: CCC, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2010.
Xia, Yankai, et al. “Urinary Phytoestrogen Levels Related to Idiopathic Male Infertility in Chinese Men.” Environment International, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2013.
Thank you for this great article. I’m going to give flaxseed a try for menopause symptoms. Can you please give a few suggestions on how to incorporate the flaxseed in my diet? What do you put it in? Thanks!
Thanks for this article.
I use it in my breakfast 1 cup melkkefir 2 tablespoons sprouted buckweat, 2 tablespoons flaxseed(I use my mill for oats)4 halves walnuts,and some home dried fruits.It is delicous and easy.Make
It before you go to bed,put it in the fridge and you are ready to go
In the morning,Lots of energie!!!!
Where did you get your flax seed? Which brand do you use ?
You can use an organic & non gmo brand that you like ~Deanna HB Team
Dont get them. It is true they increase estrogen in male. Do not get them. Used them for a year and got man boobs. I used to consume 2tsp of the golden flexseed. I didnt know what caused it until a friend (She/Her) told me trans used them to built fat tissue around that area. I waa shocked! If you are Male be careful taking the.
Are you supposed to refrigerate the flaxseed?
Hi Magdalena, thanks for the useful info. I’m just wondering why it’s bad to buy flaxseed that’s already been ground?
When Flaxseeds are ground this exposes the fatty acids to oxygen which leads the mix becoming rancid quickly. It is best to grind daily,, or alternately grind enough for 4-5 days days and store in a sealed glass container in fridge ( some recommend the freezer). This is why I always recommend to my patients that they grind their own seeds and nuts.
Can flaxseeds be given to 5-6 yo children in the morning in form of smoothie
Yes, as long as you feel they are tolerating it well. ~Deanna HB Team
Thank you. We agree with that as well 🙂 ~Deanna HB Team
Thank you for the informative article. What about flax milk. I use this in my smoothies instead of almond milk after developing an intolerance to almonds? Is flax milk okay for our health?
Magdalena, I would also like to know your opinion on flax milk. I am postmenopausal and drng flax milk every day, particularly for the calcium.
She believes in non dairy milks for recipes. She also says to reap the most benefits “Always buy it in seed form (not as pre-ground flax meal) and grind it freshly in a coffee or spice grinder. Grinding flaxseed makes lignans more bioavailable.” I hope that helps.
It may be fine if you are tolerating it. Are you making the milk yourself? The article shares about the lignans from the ground seeds that are helpful for hormone balancing. ~Deanna HB Team
The advent of an every-morning smoothie for breakfast is one of the most significant improvements in nutrition to come along. Where else can you combine so many sources of nutrients in a one-container meal that is convenient, delicious and incredibly packed with vitamins, minerals and all sorts of essential phytonutrients. One of the best ways to add a little consistency to a smoothie is by adding flaxseed. To get your daily 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed for its therapeutic benefits, just add to your smoothie. Best start to anyone’s day ever!
Thank you so much for sharing what works for you!
~Deanna HB Team
I ate two TBSP flax seed every morning the past two months, had no breast pain at all this cycle, usually suffer one or two weeks. My usually very heavy period was significantly less this month. Only had to stay home one day. Cramps were killed by naproxen, I usually can still feel some pain. I seed cycle with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, eat flax daily.
Thank you for sharing here about how it is working for you!
~Deanna HB Team
Thank you for this well written and researched article Magdalena. I will now try Flaxseed for my menopausal flashes.
Please let us know how it works for you 🙂 ~Deanna HB Team
I put about 2 table spoons of whole flaxseeds in my cereal every morning. I heard that you don’t get much nutrition if you don’t grind them. Is it true?
HI Michelle, yes, you absorb the full benefits of the lingnans when the seeds are ground. ~ Jen HB Support
I’ve been trying to incorporate flaxseeds every morning and notice that they make me cry very easily through out the day. When I stop taking Flaxseeds, I don’t cry. Any ideas why this happens to me?
Alayne, I have the same problem…when I take the flaxseeds, I tend to cry all day and get very depressed! I don’t think I can take them anymore…it’s not healthy to be so sad all the time.
She addresses this in the article. She mentions that she has met a met “a few women (they are the minority) who have a paradoxical response to flaxseed – their estrogen dominance symptoms worsen. If that’s you (be sure not to make any other significant changes during this time), please stop flaxseed” and offers this supplemental protocol “https://hormonebalancenutritionals.com/collections/frontpage/products/estrometabolizer-kit as another way to support estrogen metabolism. ~Deanna HB Team
Extra note: When crying attacks is good too see the cause Take a linden tea, and entertain in a movie while the attack pass. But try to work in the unsolved problems that are bothering you..
Yes, in the article she says this “Having said that, I have met a few women (they are the minority) who have a paradoxical response to flaxseed – their estrogen dominance symptoms worsen. If that’s you (be sure not to make any other significant changes during this time), please stop flaxseed and look into the supplement protocol to see how else you can support estrogen metabolism.” She gives this link https://hormonebalancenutritionals.com/collections/frontpage/products/estrometabolizer-kit in the article. The teariness would be a sign of an estrogen dominance symptom. I hope that helps
~Deanna HB Team
I’m noticing depression as well after 2 weeks on a bit more than a tablespoon a day of ground flaxseed. I started to reduce a very low dose HRT patch a month ago, but only slight reduction, so. I thought the flaxseed would help, but I feel similar to the way I feel when I take Prometreium (bioidentical progesterone) too often (somewhat depressed and cry easily when I’m generally an upbeat person). I only take a dose of Prometreum every 2nd or 3rd day because of the very low dose estradiol and was doing fine on that. I’m going to stop the flaxseeds for a while and see if I feel better. I do eat lots of raw nuts, power walk almost daily, do yoga 3 days a week, and get sunshine, so otherwise I’m very healthy at 66.
Thank you is great info. To Alyne, when crying: Possibly: When we have normal low blood pressure like people in sports. we can not take flax seed all of the time. It has the effect of lowering the blood pressure. So, energy is down. Because, we do have good digestive system and we do not need laxative effects. Also, when the thyroid is low, energy is low too. In that case, would be good to take instead raw nuts that contain selenium, like walnuts and other nuts and seeds like sesame, sunflower, cacao nibs of course everything without sugar. You can grind the, and put it in glass bottles with the its names to refrigerate, for variation of nutrients. Do exercise, take sunshine without sun blocker preferable early morning. This in order to obtain D vitamin, and beautiful skin that we can’t get in continuous AC.
Flax seeds in any quantity cause severe gastritis for me. I’ve been taking Lignan Omega Twin Flax and Borage oil for years without ill effect. Yes, it contains lignan but I am unsure if this is due to the borage content or the flax, however if it is derived from the flax as I thought, then you would be incorrect in saying that flax does not contain lignan. I rely on Barlean’s as they are a high quality brand and reliable provider of essential fatty acids. My functional medical dr. says I also should try to take a DHA supplement to be sure that my fatty acid needs are covered. I know I had a deficiency due to complete testing. Thanks for your excellent blogs1
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feedback here!
~Deanna HB Team
is very good for hair
Very nice to hear that you are having this benefit from the flaxseed 🙂
~Deanna HB Team
Hi..Many, many thanks for your informative article on flaxseed.
I was having painful breasts as I am a 65 year old woman & I can truly say, after 3 weeks of ingesting 2 tb of cert organic golden flax ground up in my smoothy every day, i am just noticing a remarkable difference.
Hot Flushes have reduced & no more tender breasts!
Many heart felt thank you’s.
Which flaxseed is the best for a supplement? The kind and brand. I trust your suggestions. Thank you. Maria
Hi Maria, Any whole, organic flaxseed (golden or brown) that you can grind at home. Please, do not buy pre-ground seeds, also known as “flax meal as the pre-ground can go rancid quickly. I hope this helps:) ~Jeanne HB Team
Bummer, I just purchased a 10 pound bag of organic ground flaxseed. I’m storing it the fridge, but since it’s pre-ground will I still receive benefits? Should I take extra to make up for what’s lost?
Hi Lisa, You can still use the ground flax for other things, like baking… I use it for pizza crusts and other things. But for seed rotation you should fresh-grind your seeds. I don’t know if just taking more of the pre-ground will be compensate for what is lost. ~ Astrid HB Team
Bummer, I just purchased a 10 pound bag of organic ground flaxseed. I’m storing in the fridge, but since it’s pre-ground, will I still receive benefits?
Hi Lisa, we suggest to only use fresh ground flax for the seed rotation. ~ Jeanne HB Team
I am so glad for this very helpful and informative article. I am using flaxseed (groynd them in my grinder) by using the Budwig protocol. I am using Tamixifen as well and was concerned that it coyld increase estrigen levels. Thank you fir the intense research.
Does the ground flaxseed have to be raw to be of benefit? I used to make a really good grain-free flaxseed meal bread and thought I’d use that for my daily dose.
Hi Gina, yes the flax seeds need to be raw. ~ HB Team
I stopped taking Tamoxifen due to the very unpleasant side effects. Instead I used about 2 tablespoonfuls a day of ground flaxseed, but after a while the side effects of Tamoxifen returned (night cramps, insomnia, headaches, limb weakness and aches) so, I stopped taking it and they began to lessen a little. Convinced of its usefulness, I took it again in smaller doses, but, very quickly the side effects returned. Presumably it’s doing too good a job, but I wonder, also, if the receptors are remaining blocked for much longer than I would have anticipated. I know the Tamoxifen side effects lasted for about 2 months after I stopped it. Is it something strange about my receptors? I’d love to know the answers.
Hi Clare, Magdalena has written extensively about estrogen dominance (what it is) (what are estrogenic cancers) and is very passionate about it because she feel that 80% of women experience estrogen dominance at some point in their lives, yet, 80% of them don’t know that they have it. To learn more, here are two articles Magdalena has written:
These are great resources. I hope this helps.
Jeanne HB Team
Please don’t stop your prescribed medication to use flaxseed!! If you are at risk of or have had breast cancer, you need something that has been tested extensively. Flaxseed is great but it’s not worth risking your life over.
I want to reduce my breast size.. does flaxseed help with that? Can I reduce them by consuming 10g flaxseeds everyday?
I am not aware of any natural ways to reduct breast size.
I have been using Good Karma flaxmilk. Mostly for the b12 and Omegas. Is it safe? I feel good when I drink it in my morning smoothie and miss it when I don’t. Thoughts?
Hi Glenda, Magdalena uses no dairy milk in recipes, just look at the ingredient list and make sure it doesn’t contain a lot of added ingredients that you might not want to have in your diet, at least on a daily basis. ~ Jeanne HB Team
Im 23 and starting to have acne breakouts around my chin and its starting to spread to my cheeks. A lot of articles have stated that flaxseed and spearmint tea helps balance hormone and in clearing up the skin. Its good to understand more of how flaxseed works in the body because some articles state that it increases estrogen, some say it cancels/removes excess, so its really confusing. I hope the article talks more about how it may or may not help with acne breakouts.
While Flaxseed and Spearmint are excellent allies for hormone balancing, in regards to acne you may want to look instead to sugar balance and insulin levels. Please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for further support.
Dont get them. It is true they increase estrogen in male. Do not get them. Used them for a year and got man boobs. I used to consume 2tsp of the golden flexseed. I didnt know what caused it until a friend (She/Her) told me trans used them to built fat tissue around that area. I waa shocked! If you are Male be careful taking the.
[…] psyllium, mushrooms, oat bran, barley, corn, nuts, seeds, beans & legumes (lentils, peas), flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, […]
Thank you for this article, very educational. I’ve noted that shortly after eating flaxseeds I have gas in my intestines and they become noisy, like something is pouring inside. Would you have any idea why is this happening?
Do you have any video of that? I’d care to find out more details.
Oh, no time to read the whole article now so I couldn’t wait to read it knowing it was coming from you Magdalena, so I did a slower scan through it. Man, what a great article. Thank you thank you!!! Can’t wait to sit down and go through it throughly.
One thing I didn’t see, is what’s the difference between gold and brown flax seeds. I was at a health food store and was told that the gold is best for menstruating women while the brown is better for those past child bearing years. Is that correct?
Thanks again Magdalena for your diligence to get things right Kudos!
Hi there, great informative article! I’m just wondering is 100% flaxseed powder beneficial?
[…] Flax […]
I am on an aromatase inhibitor (exemestane) for breast cancer. My only question I cant seem to get answered is if the plant estrogens interfere with A.I.s. if say they bind to the estrogen receptor instead of my medication, rendering it useless? I have 2 more years of the drugs and when I’m off will definitely be using flax instead, but nobody has been able to tell me if it’s safe to use in conjunction.
It is good to discuss with your medical practitioner/pharmacist. However, Flax has been proven to help shift that estrogen balance in a positive direction, please check where she discusses 2:16 hydroxyestrone in the article. It is listed in this article above where it says “The Amazing healing benefits of flaxseed”as the list starts, under number #1 A very important note to consider is that she says to tune into how your body responds. She says that 1 in 10 women she works with might have a negative reaction to flax seed, in which case it’s only wise to back off. That’s very normal, we all can have reaction to “good food”; one person can’t do avocado and some can’t eat eggs. From Magdalena’s purely empirical experience, she has seen so many women rebalance their estrogens and using flax seed in the seed rotation method and she is talking about shrinking of breast lumps, thyroid nodules and even using it to manage breast cancer (together with other modalities). If she did not see such results, she wouldn’t recommend it. ~HB Team
I have a question. GreenSmoothieGirl is selling Sprouted flax and it is supposed to be wonderful for all the conditions you talk about. Do you have any information or advice on that product? It sounds like it would be better for everything, but after it is sprouted it is ground? They say it is a long shelf life and is highly nutritional.
Sorry, we don’t have any experience with the sprouted flax sold by GreenSmoothieGirl. If you try it, let us know what you think! ~ Jeanne HB Team
Then one last question I am not seeing an answer for. If you are doing seed rotation, then you don’t do Flax the whole month. Should we do flax the whole month and how does that work with the rotation? I know flax is very useful for my body.
You can do flax for the entire month with the seed rotation. Yes, it is very useful:) ~ Jeanne HB Team
How does it affect people with progesterone intolerance?
Hi Tia, it would be best to listen to your body. As Magdalena said in the article, she has not found any medical studies that show harmful effects of flaxseed. ~ Jeanne HB Team
Is Her2+ breast cancer viewed the same as ER+ breast cancer? Basically may flaxseed help with the prevention or recurrence of her2+?
[…] estrogen is another hormonal contributor to hot flashes. Flaxseed, with its high levels of phytoestrogens is a great natural way to increase estrogen. A review of 62 […]
[…] You can simply throw them into your cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, and even meals like pasta, hearty salads, and tacos. They both have barely any taste, especially when combined with meals heavy in flavor. There are some precautions to take in regards to flaxseed. If you have a history of low blood pressure, it’s best to avoid flaxseed as they have been proven to lower blood pressure (6). Also, flaxseed has a powerful effect on the hormone estrogen. Women who are estrogen dominant are often recommended to incorporate more flaxseed into their diets (7). […]
Wondering about flaxseed and flaxseed oil for men.
Hello…Thank you very much for your information….
My question to you is:
My husband was having terrible issues with his bowels, big problems in bowels movements !
Started giving him probibly 6 teaspoons of flax in oatmeal about every morning..he is thrilled with his bowels moving so good now!
Then I heard, he could start gutting emotional and start to grow breasts Is this true? He is 71
I myself, am 64(in a few days) and my intake of flax seed is around, 5 or 6 teaspoons, should I not be doing this?
Thank you so much!!
I have never heard of that before. Flaxseed is a pretty good thing to have regularly.
I am eating bread made from flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seeds every day. Is that a go or no go with seed rotation?
Oh I forgot one ingredient in my bread: sesame seeds. So. I’m getting all the seeds every day and I’m wondering if that will ruin the effect of the rotation?
Thank you ☀️
Hi Sisse, The seeds are beneficial no matter how you take them, however, the seeds in the bread, is probably not nearly the quantity recommended for Seed Rotation. Also, if the bread is gluten based, that could add to digestive issues. That said, it is best to follow the Seed Rotation guide, freshly grind, and add to a smoothie. HB Team
I am on HRT is it ok for me to take flaxseed
Hi Sandra. It would be a good idea to talk with your practitioner about taking flaxseed alongside HRT.
Additionally, we share more information about HRT and why bio-identical hormones may do more to help here: https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/topical-progesterone-when-why-and-how-part-1/
Please reach out if our team can answer any other questions.
– HB Team
I m in menopause and l took flaxseed to have more estrogen However my symptoms returned after having taken it. Could it be that it lowered my estrogen? I m not on HRT
Hi Eda. A small minority of women may have a paradoxical response to flaxseed – this means their estrogen dominance symptoms could worsen. Did you make any other significant changes to your diet, supplement regimen, or daily routine during the time you took flaxseed?
If taking flaxseed was the only change, please stop flaxseed and look into the supplement protocol to see how else you can support estrogen metabolism: https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/top-3-supplements-for-estrogen-dominance/
– HB Team
Hi there, I am 47, MTF transgender woman, currently on HRT for my transition. Do you think flax would aid or retard breast development and general fat redistribution? Your thoughts would be appreciated. I have been using flax, alongside soya milk, with the estrogen and progesterone, but after 4 months have seen less progress than I would like.
It is best that you speak with your doctor to make sure that flax is a good option for you.
I’m wondering if sprouted flaxseeds would be more or less beneficial to no non sprouted flaxseeds when considering the the benefits of hormone balancing.
[…] amplifier or blocker, depending on what your body needs. They’re able to do this as they are high in lignans – look it up, it’s fascinating […]
Hi there. This is such a GREAT article! You research like I do and I LOVE it!
SO my situation is that whenever I ate flax on a daily basis, I would get larger (and I think heavy) breasts. Does that mean likely I need to try the supplement protocol one and then try flax again? I wasn’t clear about that part of what you wrote. I would like to have these benefits!
Haven’t tried flax in a long time but would really like to try again! Thank you again!
Flaxseed can affect people in different ways and this is one negative effect it seems to have on you. I would try again, and if it happens again, you might consider using something different (although there isn’t really a substitute for flax.)
Hello, i am in need of estrogen so is it okay for ground flaxseeds daily? i read somewhere up to 5 tbsp. what would you say is best for over 50s to keep hormones in balance? i do take Wild yam as well. i do know a sm bit of testosterone is also needed for women so i use chilli/cayanne pepper in foods for balance. thank you
You can use flaxseed daily if you’d like. It also helps to boost progesterone. YOu might consider checking out our new book at overcomingestrogendominance.com to find other ways to balance your hormones. 🙂
Healthy Regards, HB Team
Hi Magdalena, thank you for writing this article. Are flaxseeds beneficial food to eat for women who has higher normal 4-OH Estrogen? I usually eat 2 tsp of Flax seeds with DF yogurt in the morning. I have done Genova Diagnostics’s Hormone Complete 24 hours urine panel and 4-OH came back 50% and the other 50% is 2-OH. I think my 4-OH is too high. Thank you. Tamie
This is a great question to discuss with your functional medicine practitioner. That said, as we share in the article:
“Most women with estrogen dominance do not suffer because of too much estrogen but because they are not breaking down and evacuating these estrogens well enough. Flaxseed can help shift estrogen metabolism from the “dirty” estrogen in the direction of the “clean” ones.”
– HB Team
“yes” absolutely flaxseed does increase estrogen. Estrogen slows bile down and when I take it, it constipates me. I feel pretty lousy. It doesn’t contain actual estrogen. It is phytoestrogenetic and does it’s thing influencing or what have you.
It sounds like you are among the small percentage of women who have a paradoxical response to flaxseed. This supplement protocol is another way to support estrogen metabolism that doesn’t involve flaxseed: https://wellena.com/pages/wellena-estrogen-reset-kit
Please know you can always reach our customer support team at [email protected] if you have any questions.
– HB Team
I have melasma about 5 years, I think it is hormonal ,after pregnancy, but at the same time I started to use flaxseeds, till now, every day. Now I’m think maybe flaxseeds caused me melasma..? Is it possible?
Hi Edita. This is a great question to discuss with your primary physician or functional medicine practitioner. A small percentage of women do have a paradoxical response to flaxseed that can cause already occurring symptoms to worsen instead of heal. If you think this might be you, it’s important to talk with a health practitioner.
– HB Team
What about estrogen production in men? You give all kinds of answers for women but do not address estrogen in men.
Do you have a answer?
Hi Max. Magdalena does not work with men, so she has limited experience and feedback from men. The little research available shows that men might not benefit from flaxseed as much as women do. One study points out elevated prostate cancer risk and infertility, and is linked above in this article.
If you have additional questions, it is always a good idea to speak with your health practitioner or seek out an expert in men’s hormone health.
– HB Team
Just wanted to say thank you for such a well written article! Very helpful! I have been using ground flaxseed for three weeks now and have seen noticeable improvements in my sleep, less hot flashes, less night sweats & overall better mood. A game-changer for my peri-menopause!
Hi Melissa, this is wonderful to hear. We’re so glad that you are finding some relief. Thank you for sharing this with us.
A few weeks ago I started 2 T ground flax seed per day (to help with blood pressure). Although I’m ten years post menopause, I am experiencing a “mini period.” I’m concerned that perhaps this isn’t helpful for me? Should I try 1 T per day? Should I keep up the 2 T and hope my body adjusts? TIA!
Does anyone know why we can’t we use organic flax meal? That’s what I bought and what I’ve been taking. It’s been working out pretty good.
Hello everyone,I am 27 years old female.I have harmonal imbalance due to which my periods are very irregular, Heavy bleeding which doesn’t stop ,then I have to take progesterone to stop it.This is really making me sick by draining all my energy,when I went to Gynecologist they did all kind of tests and they kept me on Contraceptive pills for 2 months.Then again after 2 months my body is back to its abnormal harmonal behaviour.It’s been 5 years since i had my natural menstrual cycle.Some doctors say it’s thyroid levels, Some say pcod. But I m left with no clue of what’s happening in my body.
After going through so much of data available in various websites ,I think I have Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.This could be because of Estrogen dominance in my body.
Last year I tried eating flaxseeds everyday, to my surprise I didn’t go through that Abnormal bleeding for almost 2 months.I thought of eating flaxseeds to help my hair growth, But it turned out as a great help with my harmones..
Flaxseeds really helped me with Estrogen disorders.
Hi Sai, thank you for sharing your story with us. We’re glad that you are apart of our community and have found relief through the use of flaxseeds. We are here to support you in anyway we can! ~HB Support.
Hi thanks for sharing this. I would like to ask you whether flax seed consumption is advisable for a patient who is undergoing ivf treatment especially after embryo transfer? Because this treatment mainly involve estrogen and progestrone supplements.
I cannot eat sesame seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds due to lectin intolerance (genetic SNP). I eat 2 tbsp of Flax seed every day. Is that ok to eat everyday or would Magdalena only recommend it during the first part of cycle (follicular phase)?
Hi Nicky, you can use the Flax in the first part and try hemp in the second phase of your cycle due to its safety in people with issues with lectins. ~HB Support
Hi, I hope you can help me asap. I am 70yo and been adding 1 TBL ground flax to my morning oatmeal for many months. Lately one of my breasts is feeling tender and now I am frightened if I have elevated my hormones and caused cancer 🙁 thnx for any input
I’m postmenopausal and taking prescribed progesterone and estradiol. My question is does flaxseed interfere with the absorption of estradiol?
HI Della, The phytoestrogens from flax help to support our estrogen stores and pathways, so it should not interfere with absorption. I hope that helps! HB Support
I’m confused. I was strongly advised by the cancer clinic Not to use Flaxseeds as they mimic estrogen in the body and this is not good for a person with Er and Pr positive breast cancer. I’m too scared to use it now. My friend refused to listen and her cancer came back.
Flax oil was said to be ok as the problem is what’s in the seed, not the extracted oil. That also didn’t make sense to me.
Please help me to understand.
Hi Janet, flaxseeds, not the oil, contain phytoestrogens. The phytoestrogen in flaxseeds are known as lignans and have been shown in some studies to, in small amounts such as a a tablespoon or less, support the weaker more protective forms of estrogen in our body, increase damaged cell apoptosis and even bind to estrogen receptors blocking the effects of our estrogen on these receptors in a similar manner to come estrogen receptor blocking medications. This is why it can be a supported option for some women with Er/Pr positive breast cancer. ~Dr. Stephanie
Hello! I would love to try seed cycling, but I am hesitant because I have genetic conditions that make me prone to blood clots. I have had a DVT and PEs in the past (due to birth control and pregnancy hormones exacerbating my genetic predisposition). I am concerned about anything that might “mess with” the existing balance of hormones since all forms of medicinal estrogen are contraindicated for me. I’d love to know your thoughts on consuming regular doses of flaxseed in the case of predisposition to clotting.
If you are prone to clotting due to genetic predisposition, you may want to discuss this with your doctor. Flaxseeds contain not only phytoestrogens which work by not necessarily increasing your estrogen levels but by interacting with estrogen receptors and also contain oils known to reduce the risk of clots forming. These may be an ok option but we recommend double checking with your doctor or a functional medicine doctor/naturopathic doctor to be sure they work for you! ~Dr. Stephanie