Flax seed oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids, most notably omega-3 fatty acids. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, these compounds are necessary for healthy growth and development. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, they are also critical for proper brain function and cardiovascular health. They are considered essential because the body cannot manufacture them. Instead, omega-3 fatty acids must be obtained through the diet, mostly through the consumption of fish, sea vegetables, and some leafy greens. The seeds of some plants also contain omega-3 fatty acids, of which flaxseeds are the richest source. Although generally considered to be a safe and beneficial food, flaxseed oil can interact with a number of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly when consumed in large quantities. Consult your doctor before taking flaxseed oil if you are taking any medications.
Blood thinners are preventative medicines used to to reduce the risk of a potentially fatal thrombosis. Flaxseed oil is believed to enhance the effects of a wide variety of blood thinning medications. If you are taking warfarin (Coumadin), clopedigrel (Plavix), or even aspirin, you should consult with your primary caregiver before incorporating flaxseed oil into your diet. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, there may be benefits to combining aspirin with flaxseed oil, particularly in cases in which aspirin is not well-tolerated, provided that it is under the guidance and supervision of a doctor.
Hormone replacement therapy, also known as HRT, is used to reduce the discomfort associated with menopause and perimenopause. According to the National Institute of Health, flaxseed oil may alter hormonal levels, impacting the efficacy of hormone replacement therapy. It is also possible that flaxseed oil's effects on the body's hormonal balance may also affect oral contraceptives. These therapies are also believed to interfere with flaxseed oil's effects on blood triglyceride levels, dramatically reducing its efficacy.
Blood Pressure Medication
Although current research is not conclusive, the National Institute of Health advises that flaxseed oil's hypotensive effect could increase the overall efficacy of other medicines used to lower high blood pressure. If you are taking medications that lower blood pressure such as enalapril (Vasotec), captopril (Capoten), losartan (Cozaar), diltiazem (Cardizem), valsartan (Diovan), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL) or furosemide (Lasix), it is important that you consult with your doctor to determine if flaxseed oil should be included in your diet.
If you are diabetic and taking medications such as glipizide (glucotrol or glucotrol XL), glucophage (Metformin), glyburide (Diabeta or Micronase) or insulin, it is important to consult with your health care provider before supplementing your diet with flaxseed oil. The consumption of flaxseed oil or any rich source of omega-3 fatty acids may cause fasting blood glucose levels to rise, and your physician may need to increase your medication dosage to compensate for the interaction.
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD; June 2009
- National Institutes of Health; Flaxseed Oil; 2011
- "Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Professional Version"; Therapeutic Research Faculty; 2009