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What does flaxseed do?

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Quick Answer

When it is combined with water, flaxseed forms a gel that can be used to soften the stool and treat constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis and stomach discomfort, according to New York University's Langone Medical Center. According to the National Institutes of Health's Medline Plus, flaxseed may be effective in lowering blood sugar and total cholesterol and in treating kidney disease caused by systemic lupus erythematosus.

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Full Answer

Medline Plus notes that the effectiveness of many other uses of flaxseed has not been established. These uses include treating the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, reducing the growth of breast cancer tumors, lowering the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome, and lowering the risk of endometrial, prostrate, colorectal and lung cancers. Other unverified uses of flaxseed include lowering blood pressure, reducing the symptoms of menopause, treating bladder inflammation and skin irritation, easing breast pain, and treating ADHD.

Mayo Clinic notes that the health benefits of flaxseed are likely derived from its high fiber content, Omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, which are phytochemicals that mimic the female hormone estrogen. Medline Plus states that flaxseed is probably safe for most adults to take, as long as it is not raw or unripe.

According to PETA, ground flax seed simmered in water can be used as an egg substitute in baking.

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