Dangers & Harmful Side Effects of Flaxseed Oil

Yogurt with flaxseed oil
Bowl of yogurt with flaxseed oil (Image: HeikeRau/iStock/Getty Images)

Flaxseed oil is a natural supplement derived from the seed of a plant called Linum usitatissimum. This type of oil contains the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, which your body needs to function normally. Health professionals with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine note that treatment with flaxseed oil may alleviate arthritis pain and help keep your heart healthy. Talk with your physician about the dangers and harmful side effects of flaxseed oil before you begin to use this natural supplement.

Side Effects

Treatment with flaxseed oil may cause harmful upset stomach side effects, such as nausea, bloating or stomach pain, MedlinePlus reports. You may also experience constipation or diarrhea, which may exacerbate upset stomach side effects. Seek care from your primary care doctor if you develop recurrent or persistent bouts of diarrhea or constipation. Chronic diarrhea may increase your risk of dehydration, while chronic constipation may result in an impacted stool.

Medication Interactions

Flaxseed oil may interfere with the way in which your body absorbs other types of vitamins, minerals or oral medications you consume. If possible, do not take flaxseed oil at the same time as other medications or supplements in order to prevent this interaction. Let your doctor know if you are taking medications to lower your blood sugar or cholesterol levels before you begin taking flaxseed oil, the University of Maryland Medical Center warns. Flaxseed may also enhance the effect of blood-thinning medications and topical steroids.

Bleeding Problems

Using flaxseed oil could affect the way in which your blood clots and may increase your risk of experiencing bleeding problems, MayoClinic.com warns. If you are scheduled for a surgical or dental procedure or have a bleeding disorder, inform your doctor of these issues before taking flaxseed oil. Additionally, seek prompt care from your doctor if you develop bleeding problems, such as recurrent nosebleeds, while taking this supplement.

Pregnancy Complications

Flaxseed may mimic the effect of estrogen, a female sex hormone, MedlinePlus warns, which may negatively affect a fetus during development. Consequently, women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should avoid using flaxseed oil unless otherwise directed by a medical professional.

Diabetic Issues

Flaxseed oil may lower the levels of sugar in your blood, MedlinePlus explains. If you have diabetes and take medication that lowers your blood sugar levels, talk with your doctor before using flaxseed oil. Concomitant use of blood sugar-lowering medications and flaxseed oil may cause your blood sugar levels to drop significantly, leading to a complication called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia may cause symptoms of dizziness, hunger, headache, fatigue and confusion.

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