Flaxseed is used to treat a broad range of symptoms, ranging from gastrointestinal tract issues to heart and blood disorders, and even to reduce the symptoms of mental health issues and as protection against certain cancers, according to WebMD. Its benefits as a seed differ from its benefits as an oil.
Flaxseed contains dietary fiber, which is found primarily in the seed coat, and omega-3 fatty acids, as stated by WebMD. These work on the body in a variety of ways. Flaxseed is broken down into lignans when digested. Lignans are similar to estrogen and fight with estrogen in some chemical reactions. Because of this, flaxseed can lessen the impact of estrogen on the body. It may slow the progression of some cancers that need estrogen to survive, such as breast, colon and lung cancer.
The fiber in flaxseed seems to have a variety of beneficial health aspects as well, according to WebMD. When taken prior to a meal, the fiber in flaxseed tends to make people feel less hungry, which may lead to them eating less and losing weight. The fiber in flaxseed also binds with cholesterol, making it more difficult for the cholesterol to be absorbed into the body. Flaxseed fiber makes platelets less sticky, thus reducing hardening of the arteries. This makes flaxseed helpful when treating high blood pressure and coronary artery disease, and for lowering cholesterol.
Other conditions for which some people use flaxseed include constipation, gastritis, ADHD, kidney problems associated with lupus, and symptoms of menopause, notes WebMD. Other uses include treatment for breast pain, depression, bladder infections, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.