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The Toxicity of Linseed Oil

By Joe King, M.S.

Linseed oil, also called flaxseed oil, is derived from the dried and ripened seeds of the flax plant and is used as a nutritional supplement for its potential health benefits. Linseed oil may be effective in lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as improving kidney function in some individuals according to the National Institutes of Health. However, too much linseed oil may lead to toxicity symptoms and side effects. Consult your physician before using a supplement containing linseed oil.

Allergic Reaction

Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to linseed oil because it is derived from a plant. A flaxseed allergy can cause a serious allergic reaction and is a medical emergency, says a report from Georgia Tech. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to flaxseeds include swelling of your face, throat and neck, the appearance of hives, excessive itching, difficulty breathing and heart palpitations. Seek medical attention immediately if you think you are experiencing a flaxseed allergy.

Toxicity Symptoms

An overdose of linseed oil may cause potentially serious side effects, including general weakness, difficulty walking, seizures and paralysis, according to Drugs.com. Individuals with bipolar disorder may observe an increase in the severity of symptoms associated with mania or hypomania with a high linseed oil intake. Daily linseed oil over-supplementation may act as a blood-thinning agent, which may increase in turn your risk of bleeding.

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Gastrointestinal Effects

Large amounts of linseed oil intake at once may cause gastrointestinal distress, such as upset stomach, vomiting, persistent stomach cramps and nausea. Linseed oil may also cause your intestines to stop moving, a condition called ileus. Ileus may result in mild-to-severe constipation. Taking linseed oil with large amounts of water may reduce the potential gastrointestinal side effects associated with linseed oil toxicity, particularly constipation.

Other Considerations

Linseed oil may interfere with the proper absorption and functioning of certain drugs and medications . According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, linseed oil may interfere with certain blood-thinning medications, or anticoagulants, which may increase your risk of bleeding due to thinning your blood even more. Linseed oil may also interfere with blood sugar-lowering medications, certain medical steroids, cholesterol-lowering medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Caution should be taken when using linseed oil in combination with any of these drugs and medications.

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