Flaxseeds are a popular type of seed that is both nutrient dense and rich in fiber. Nutrition aside, flaxseeds contain a class of chemicals known as lignans. Lignans are a type of antioxidant found in plants that may also be known as a phytoestrogen or plant estrogen.
If you’re experiencing menopausal symptoms or just about any type of female hormone problem, you’ve probably run across numerous articles touting the beneficial properties of the phytoestrogens found in flax. While there is no doubt flax is a nutrition food, the effect it has on hormones is still under question. The truth is, the role of phytoestrogens in the human body is not yet well understood and there is a considerable divide in the scientific community when it comes to whether these compounds are beneficial or not.
Estrogen, Flax, and Cancer
There are generally two schools of belief when it comes to phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens act very much like your body’s own estrogen when consumed. While estrogen is beneficial and necessary for health, too much of it is a problem and can increase your risk of developing cancer. And unfortunately, when it comes to estrogen, we are already exposed to dangerous quantities through unnatural forms known as xenoestrogens.
The first group of scientists believes that phytoestrogens can increase the levels of fluctuating estrogen in your blood and therefore it poses a risk of increased cancer, particularly to women who already have estrogen dominance.
The other group believes that phytoestrogens can help regulate estrogen levels and ensure they don’t get too high by blocking your body’s own estrogen from attaching to receptors.
Is Flaxseed Safe?
Until the exact mechanism of phytoestrogens can be identified, it is unlikely this question can be answered with any amount of certainty. It is true that many women report a significant reduction in hot flashes and other menopausal issues after consuming flax daily. However, there are also women who report a worsening of symptoms after eating flax.
If you’re experiencing hormone problems or cancer runs in your family, it may be wise to avoid flax at this time.
If you do choose to consume flax, you should exercise caution with your dosage. Some nutritional guides promote the usage of 2 to 5 tablespoons of flaxseed per day. That is a lot of flax seed. It should be noted that while flax was consumed by our ancestors, it was not possible to eat that large of a quantity every day.
Remember, moderation is key.
Alternatives to Flaxseeds for Treating Hormone Issues
Fortunately, flaxseeds aren’t the only option when it comes to natural menopause treatment. Our health and wellness center in Cincinnati has had great success utilizing a variety of techniques when it comes to managing hormones safely and effectively.
Some potential treatments include bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, nutritional counseling, dietary changes, stress reduction, and herbal supplementation.