Flaxseed Oil Reduces Healing Time

A few days ago, Dominic Andriacchi, a 25-year-old law student living near Detroit, told me that he mentioned some of my self-experimentation (my discovery that postponing breakfast reduced insomnia) in an Amazon ebook (Law School Livin’) he’d just published. He added that something he read in this blog really helped him:

Thank you for introducing me to flaxseed oil.  Recently, I re-injured my back (a injury that occurred during college football).  While I’ve never seen a doctor for the injury, I did a little internet searching and figured that I had herniated a disk in my lower back.  I also had pain in my leg due to, I presume, pressure on the sciatic nerve from the herniated disk.

He re-injured his back pulling a small tree uphill.

Usually, it takes at least a week for the pain to go away.  I have trouble sitting, walking, and so forth.  That day, because I [had] read the post of Tucker Max’s ankle injury and flaxseed oil, I immediately upped my flaxseed oil to a total of 15 1000mg capsules.  The next day, there was nearly no pain at all.  I could bend over and touch my toes with only the slightest pain.  The day after that, I was back to normal.

Later he added some details:

I took 15 capsules of flaxseed oil [the day of the injury] to see what would happen. There was no immediate benefit that I felt that day, but the next day it was great. Even sitting or the slightest bending can cause a lot of pain, but I was able to bend over and nearly touch my toes. I took another 10 capsules that day as well. The day after that, I was completely pain free. I took more flaxseed oil capsules even though I was experiencing no pain at all. I expected the pain to come back, but it didn’t. From then on, I would just take my normal two flaxseed oil capsules [per day]. I was spacing them out, 5 at a time in between meals.

12 Replies to “Flaxseed Oil Reduces Healing Time”

  1. I find all the effects that you see from flax seed oil very interesting(high in ALA). There is no evidence that ALA gets converted do DHA or EPA in any significant amounts(doesn’t mean it doesn’t, however that is my hypothesis). I’ve read something by Dr Eades that suggests overall eicosanoid production is decreased by ALA. I do wonder about the effects of flax seed oil and how it differs from fish oil.

  2. I also find it interesting that flax oil could have such fast effects — I would figure it would take some time for the benefits to accrue because of how fatty acids incorporate. Maybe there is some type of other anti-inflammatory compound in flax oil?

    Also, what about people who have problems with flax oil? When i take any I seem to be jumping off walls and start to feel real tired — almost like I have taken a stimulant — and it disrupts my night sleep too. DHA supplements do not have this effect with me so i know something else is going on with the flax.

  3. I thought about this some more. There were trials done that showed human synthesis of dha from ala is minimal. Dr. Roberts is under the impression that this is because it was in people that are not used to ALA. With repeated exposure the body gets better at turning it into dha. Unless I’m mistaken, Dr Roberts saw immediate benefits from flax oil. There was no delay while the body was getting better at conversion. This leads me to the conclusion that ALA is beneficial it it’s own way.

  4. I have had a similar experience with Salmon oil. A few years ago I started taking it on the advice of my doctor to help lower my cholesterol levels, and I found after a few weeks that my chronic knee pain was significantly reduced. I had made no other changes to my diet or routine that would account for the change.

  5. I have read that conversion of the alpha-linolenic acid in flax oil into EPA and DHA is dependent (among other things) on genetic factors and your nutrient status. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years (well fed, I thought!), and eaten flax oil regularly the last ~5 of those. After reading that DHA composes 60% of your brain (Mark Hyman Ultramind Solution and other places), I thought I would try an actual DHA supplement. I have had frequent (often incapacitating) swelling-type headaches for years, difficulty thinking, some general inflammation, and the regular feeling that my brain is a little on fire, and sometimes terribly on fire.
    So — algal DHA, 100 mg capsules. As soon as I started taking these, I experienced a greatly increased ability to think clearly, and a gentle cooling in the region of my brain. There is actually a striking difference for me between before taking a pill, and the hours after taking one. This is one supplement where an effect is obvious for me.
    I started taking fish oil instead of the algal DHA so I could get ‘more’ DHA, but oddly the effect wasn’t as pronounced. I don’t understand why that would be (and I think I am going to try a different fish oil). However, my baseline neural discomfort is also much improved since April (start of DHA supplementation), so it is harder to compare.
    I find self-experimentation involving my brain a bit complicated. Anyhow, I think that this is an example of DHA providing a benefit where flax oil failed, even in a long-term flax user, at least in the nervious system where DHA is the critical substance.

  6. The algal DHA is just DHA (and less — 100 mg), whereas a serving of that cod liver oil should have had more DHA (it didn’t give the breakdown, and claimed it varies), but also would have had other omega-3’s (EPA and 7 others?), and also could have had impurities, despite the labelling. It also had signifcant vitamins A,D,E,K, I think. So it’s a very different product than straight DHA. It made me feel syrupy. This site inspires me to quantify more of my experiences (with results of supplements, for example), but I don’t yet grasp how to quantify some things, like the sticky, syrupy feeling that that fish oil gave me.
    Higher amounts of DHA (like more than one algal DHA capsule) still feels great. And I went and bought a new type of fish oil this weekend (550mg DHA per serving), and I also feel very good after taking it — enough so that I think about it frequently and can’t wait to take it again.

  7. I started eating Flaxseed for the first time this week, i took monday about 2 TBS then increased it today to 9 TSP i didnt have a TBS…
    interesting in the morning i felt better then usual but late afternoon i become very tired almost eyes clsoing, anyone any ideas why? is it cuased by falxseed? or somthing else? but it seems a new occurance to me as in the past i had many tiring dayes just grumpy, now i start the day better but then i feel really tired…
    any suggestions? btw im using ground flax took it with a soup…

  8. I would like to reiterate the comments and questions about the difference between flax and fish oil. Anecdotes here and on Paleohacks suggest that flax has unique effects. But nobody seems to have any ideas about why this might be the case.

    You (SR) seem to think that flax is unique and perhaps better, but to my knowledge you’ve never elaborated on this. Even if it’s speculative, I’d like to hear what your current thoughts are on their differences. Have you experimented with fish oil?

    1. Because the short-chain omega-3 in flaxseed oil must be converted to long-chain omega-3 (DHA) to be useful in the brain, flaxseed oil is like a delayed release source of DHA. Fish oil is like an all-at-once source of DHA. That’s one theory.

  9. Do you think that the phytoestrogen content of flax are a concern?

    Dose probably matters, so, fwiw, I’ve been consuming two tablespoons of ground flax seed a day.

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