Taking flaxseed oil can help clear up acne for some, but it won’t work for everyone. Properties in the oil are proven to reduce inflammation, and popular theories promote the idea that flax aids in hormonal issues and counters the effects of stress on the body. There is little clinical research on these benefits of flaxseed, but researchers are examining them.
People who take flaxseed oil to clear up acne often report fewer breakouts, better skin tone, reduced redness or puffiness, and generally healthier looking skin. Flaxseed is promoted for its beneficial effects on acne as well as for supporting prostate health, promoting cardiovascular health, reducing hair loss, encouraging breast health and relieving postmenopausal symptoms. However, there is no clinical research to prove these claims, advises nationally known physician and medical writer Ray Sahelian, MD, of Los Angeles, Calif., the author of “Mind Boosters” and “The Stevia Cookbook.”
The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed are proven to help reduce inflammation and may also reduce the effects of stress on the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Acne is a mostly inflammatory response by the body, according to the Acne Treatments Guide website, so addressing this issue will help. Stress also can trigger or promote inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids also encourage the thinning of the oily sebum that can clog pores, according to the Herb Wisdom website.
People in the United States often need more omega-3 fatty acids such as those in flaxseed in their diets, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many people consume too much omega-6 fatty acid, found in vegetable oils such as corn and safflower. While omega-6s are healthy in some ways, they promote inflammation in the body, as do the unhealthy saturated and hydrogenated fats commonly consumed in the United States, according to the Healthy Oil Planet website. While an inappropriate balance of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids contributes to inflammation, a proper balance helps improve health, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. To maintain a healthy diet, a person needs to consume two to four times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The typical American, however, usually takes in 14 to 25 times more omega-6s than omega-3s.
Flaxseed is one of the richest sources of lignans, according to Dr. Sahelian. Lignans are a chemical found in the cell walls of plants. Lignans appear to positively impact hormone-related problems, which can sometimes trigger acne, according to the Herb Wisdom website. Lignans may be especially useful because they are easily absorbed into the body. While clinical studies on the specific lignan that is found in flaxseed are scanty, researchers are conducting clinical trials to examine this lignan's possible benefits, reports the Natural and Nutritional Products Industry Center. The main lignan found in flaxseed is secoisolariciresinol diglycoside.
There are other sources of the omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, which is also known as alpha linolenic acid. ALA also is also found in soybeans, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and perilla seed oil. ALA is one of three major types of omega-3 fatty acids that people can use. The other two are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is actually converted to EPA and DHA by the body. Flaxseed oil won’t be effective for treating acne for everyone because not everyone’s body can convert ALA, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. For example, most people who suffer from diabetes or schizophrenia lack this ability. EPA and DHA can be found in fish oil.