Flaxseed (aka linseed) is a very gentle, safe remedy with many uses, affecting the bowel, skin, digestion and even treating coughs and improving heart health. Read on to see how you can use it to improve your health.
Flaxseed (aka linseed) is most commonly used as a bulking laxative. A healthy bowel contains stretch receptors, which, when stretched cause a signal to go to the brain that the body needs a bowel movement. The flaxseeds, when soaked, work well to give the additional bulk needed to trigger the stretch receptors - a gentle way of ensuring a daily bowel movement. It is important to soak the seeds for this purpose, before taking them, they absorb water easily, and if they aren't soaked prior to ingestion, may absorb water from inside the intestine - robbing the body of water and potentially making it harder to have a bowel movement. Put 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds in about 1 inch of water at breakfast time, leave them during the day so they absorb the water and swell up - maximising bulk - and drink in the evening. The seeds will work their way through your system overnight, resulting in a bowel movement the next day.
Flaxseeds can be made into a tea and used as a very effective hydrator. Symptoms of chronic low-level dehydration include headaches, dry mouth, constipation, dry skin, fatigue, dark coloured urine (urine is a good measure of hydration levels - it should be clear - straw coloured and odourless) and loss of appetite. By the time we feel thirst, we are actually already dehyrated. Hydration is crucial for optimum body function - every cell in the body needs it just like an engine needs oil.
Flaxseed tea is such an effective hydrator because the mucilage from the flaxseeds (which also contributes to an easy bowel movement because of it's lubricant effect) essentially forms a gel, which stays in the intestines longer than mere water, aiding absorption.
Making Flaxseed tea: easy-peasy
1 teaspoon of flaxseeds
1 litre of water
Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and drink a cup of this nutty flavoured tea 2-3 times daily. The benefits of hydration are enormous - impacting quickly on brain function, headaches and energy levels. And your skin will look better for being hydrated. Essential Fatty Acids
Anything called 'essential' in nutrition means it cannot be manufactured by the body, and it is essential to our health. Essential fatty acids are the polyunsaturated fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6, beneficial to the heart, arteries and general circulation. Flaxseed is rich in linoleic acid, which helps to break down cholesterol. Inflammation of digestive tract and lungs
The mucilage referred to before as a bowel lubricant and hydration-aid has a further use: it is anti-inflammatory to the mucus membranes that line the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. So taking flaxseed tea can be useful to soothe irritation in the gut, as well as being a gentle treatment for persistant coughs. It's expectorant properties mean flaxseed will make it easier to clear the lungs of mucus.