Ulcerative Colitis and Flaxseed Oil

Ulcerative colitis is a disease of too much inflammation. The Mayo Clinic recommends several dangerous and expensive anti-inflammatory drugs. Based on its effect on inflamed gums (gingivitis), I suspect flaxseed oil would be very effective, much safer, more convenient, and much cheaper, assuming you get the right dose (about 2 tablespoons/day).

Flaxseed oil is not on the Mayo Clinic list. Nor is any other source of omega-3. In a store today I ran into a woman seeking herbal treatments for ulcerative colitis. She hadn’t heard of using flaxseed oil.

Does anyone reading this have direct experience about what happens when you take flaxseed oil for ulcerative colitis?

The Mayo Clinic website doesn’t say anything about using flaxseed oil (or other omega-3 sources) to treat gingivitis. (And the Mayo Clinic claims expertise on alternative medicine.) Nor does it say gingivitis is caused by too much inflammation. In two weeks, you can see for yourself they are wrong.

26 Replies to “Ulcerative Colitis and Flaxseed Oil”

  1. My mother had colitis, I’m not sure if it was ulcerative. They had her on a lot of drugs and it was quite bad for a couple years until she heard from someone about drinking juiced carrots, green tops are the best for some reason. You have to drink the real stuff, not processed. She drank it a couple times a day and it cleared up in about half a year. Now she only gets a rare bought if she eats too much spicy food or drinks red wine.

    She hasn’t tried flax seed oil that I am aware of although I think she takes fish oil capsules for the omega 3. I will recommend flax oil to her.

  2. I have ulcerative colitis but fortunately it has quieted down on its own for the last couple of years. My doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory and told me I’d have to take it the rest of my life but the pills made me sick so I quit taking them after just a couple of weeks.
    I do take flaxseed oil now after reading your blog so perhaps it will help prevent a relapse.

  3. Peter, thanks for the suggestion. I don’t think the Mayo Clinic does dental research. I do hope that an interested academic dentist will try to repeat the dental observations I’ve reported here, how flaxseed oil cures gingivitis.

    I think about 1 in 1000 dentists would be interested and it’s not obvious to me how to find him or her.

  4. How about making the request here?

    UC forum:

    It appears to be quite active.

    (In fact, if you jump up a level in the hierarchy, there are many forums where you could make a similar request. Perhaps flax doesn’t work for UC, but cures Chrohn’s…who knows?)

    health forums:

    (This is just one site, too…I suspect there are many such forums on the net.)

  5. As I’ve posted before, I had gum surgery, now about 12 weeks ago. For the final assessment yesterday, my gum surgeon said, “Wow, I’m amazed! If I keep doing such great work, I’ll have to call myself God!” She laughed and was joking, but both her and her assistant were surprised at how well my gums were doing. And praised me highly for how hard I must be working to keep my gums in such great shape. I actually haven’t been working very hard, I must confess.

    It’s only after I started doing the flax seed oil — an average of about 3 tablespoons a day — that I have been getting these kinds of responses.

    I would love to see some research on this.

  6. I imagine that the lady you met must have been newly diagnosed. I have had ulcerative colitis since 1996. Most of the people that I know with u.c. take omega-3, though perhaps more commonly as fish oil. All of my gastroenterologists have agreed that it can be a useful adjunct to other therapies. In fact, one of the drug companies is developping a supplement drink that combines omega-3’s with the soft fiber found in bananas, vitamin D and some other foods that are very beneficial to u.c., but hard to get in the right propotions. In general though, doctors seem reluctant to recommend diet-only solutions. I have a relatively mild case, but have had two bad flare ups. Consequently I take two of the drugs listed in addition to fish oil. I am hopeful that one day I will get off the other meds, but for now I just take a very low dose of the drugs thanks largely, based on my self-experimentation, to the omega-3s. The other therapy that doctors downplay for u.c. is nicotine. Even though I have never been a smoker, nicotine gum can stop an oncoming flareup with fewer side effects than steriods and without the knee-jerk doctor’s response of increasing the dosage of my other meds.

  7. i doubt that any practicing dentist would be interested; you’d have to contact a university. I’d also mention oil pulling, which i sense will also be effective (it has been for me).
    The much more serious disease is ulcerative colitis, especially since the drugs have a hi rate of AE’s. that’s where i think Mayo could be interested in seeing if omega-3 oil are useful, although probably w/use of a lower dose of an anti-inflammatory.

  8. For whatever it’s worth:

    I’ve had Crohn’s since 1996. Before I sought treatment I had several very bad bouts of it, but it’s been under excellent control symptom-wise with Asacol for almost 10 years. I started with a low dose, but last year my gastroenterologist wasn’t happy with my test results and colonoscopy findings and doubled the dose, despite my symptoms being minimal. I’ll be getting new tests and another colonoscopy shortly, so I’ll know more then about how things are progressing.

    I’ve been taking fish oil in the Dr. Sears Zone Omega Rx formulation, which is supposedly “ultra-refined” to remove impurities, for several years, 5 capsules a day (5000 mg fish oil containing 2000 mg EPA and 1000 DHA). As noted, it hasn’t seemed to have brought about any improvement in my Crohn’s. Dr. Sears himself recommends a significantly higher dosage for Crohn’s, but my gastroenterologist isn’t comfortable with my taking that much, so I’ve stayed with 5 capsules/day.

    On the other hand, as it happens, I have a terrible dentist-phobia and have avoided for years getting my teeth professionally cleaned (I do brush regularly with an electric toothbrush but don’t floss). By all rights I should have serious gum disease by now, but my gums never bleed and I have no swelling or other gum symptoms, so I’m hopefully assuming I’m OK on that front.

  9. From my 7 year sever bout with UC, I’ve learned a couple of things (about myself, everyone might be different):
    1. Stay away from steroids, they only cause other problems.
    2. 3 pills 3x per day of Asacol is way too much, try one after every meal; better results.
    3. Cut back on dairy.
    4. No sugar or bread. Sorry, the complex sugars, wheat, and yeast will cause you gut to overreact.
    5. And this is the biggest one! Buy a coffee grinder and whole seed flax seed to mix into your morning cereal (I use almond milk). Every morning grind about 2 table-spoons and poor the meal right into the cereal (low sugar granola works best).

    Give it a try, but be patient it could take 3-6 months to clear up.

  10. I have also had UC since 1996. first few years were hellish with two very bad flare ups which required hospitalisation & heavy steroid / Imuran & salazopyren doses. not good. had fluctuating health for a few years with another severe flare up a few years back which had me on the brink of major surgery. Western meds are not the answer to Chrons or Colitis. I have put together a programme which now sees me in consistently good health with occasional digestive problems but overall a very normal life. came accross a book, ”Self healing Colitis & Crohns” by David klein. It basically promotes a whole food /vegan diet which cuts out foods that puts stress on your gut & causes fermentation. the book also deals with the problems caused on an emotional level. I do not follow the plan strictly but even following it generally leads to vastly increased condition of the gut. I grow my own wheatgrass which is a very powerful healer. I have a veg juice every morning, using a masticating juicer with no blades, always with some flax seed oil. To keep stress levels at bay I meditate, cycle, swim. all in all my life is back on track. I still have maintenance daily dosages of salazopyrn & Imuran but I hope to some day be able to stop taking them. Western medicine has no interest in prescribing a diet to fix these debilitating conditions but it does work & how! all it takes is disipline & motivation to be healthy again. Allan in Ireland

  11. Doing some research here.
    I was diagnosed with U.C. in 2006 and have had three bouts with it thus far.
    I am currently trying Turmeric and Fish Oil for the anti-inflammatory effects associated with these. I am not willing to start prescription drugs but I am becoming desperate to find a better treatment. I do believe that dairy and complex sugars do play a huge role in this disease. I will try the flax seed and report back. It is probably best to grind the seed yourself but can you just take the flax seed oil pills? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Brandi in Illinois

  12. Brandi, I believe drinking the oil is best. At least 2 tablespoons/day. I take 4 per day. If you take the pills you won’t get enough. You’d have to take about 25 pills to get the oil in 2 tablespoons.

  13. I just bought a Flax Seed Oil Bottle from Whole Foods this evening. A little history, I’ve had U.C. since 1988 (20 years) Took the gambit of meds early on. Woke up to the fact that Western Meds don’t do much of anything. I started doing things naturally in the med to late nineties. I fell off the Horse a month ago, and am having a flare-up. Trying to rid the diarrhea, it’s been bad the last few weeks. I’m on Probiotics, going back to what I used to eat, good healthy stuff and now I bought the Flax Seed Oil. I usually put it in my Oatmeal.

  14. I’ve had U.C. for about 11 years now. Does anyone know if rhubarb is a bad thing to eat. I’ve been eating some every morning. My U.C. hasn’t let up for about 8 months now.
    Also I had my gall bladder removed almost 2 years ago. About a year later I seem to have gotten worse. You never know if one thing is related to the other.
    I ate lots of live foods through most of it. I can’t even to that anymore.

  15. It seems obvious that everyone’s similar IBD *symptoms* are caused by various intestinal imbalances that are different for every person. Each person simply needs to experiment to find what works for their case.

    I have had UC for 8 months now; first flare that led to diagnosis, and now a second flare I’m getting over(lasted 3months!). On my first flare after diagnosis, I got REALLY sick after starting taking ASACOL (allergic), so I started Prednisone @30mg day instead and also started the SCD diet- and my flare cleared up to NORMAL stool in about 2 weeks (no use of Flax Oil, Probiotics, or anything else). I started to read up on supplements/etc for UC and then started taking ALOT of Garden of Life Probiotics/HSO’s according to that Makers Diet. I think these products really messed me up on my next flare by introducing too many & new bacteria strains to my system…

    Had a 2nd flare 3 months later immediately (next day) after going off strict diet and eating potato & cake bites-only. This time I also had Candida/Eczema which I had to clear up with Candex and Coconut oil. Then I finally went to the Dr. who put me on 50mg Prednisone and that helped start clearing things up. This flare was bad and I found that I could not eat foods with any sugars in them, even fruit- all I was eating was nuts,seeds, and cheese since it minimized my D to 3-6/day. Until I finally stumbled on the fact that I may be intolerant to Lactose(Prednisone filler!) or Fructose like most IBD’ers, or have SIBO. I found another Dr. who could do tests, and I was tested positive for severe SIBO- which is why my flare was so bad and not easily clearing up with strict diet & Prednisone. Took antibiotics for 2 weeks to quell the SIBO and then I could eat normal SCD foods again. So now I say “Get tested for everything you can.” I had to research and request these extra tests that Dr.’s never seemed to mention.

    Try different probiotics. Another of my Dr’s patients found that taking Florastor (S. Boulardii-yeast just like Ganeden Crohns/Colitis pills) keeps him normal with no meds. I tried it and found this made *me* worse- maybe because it’s a yeast and I probably have some lingering SIBO(too soon yet). I’ve found that Acidophilus (small Intestine bacteria) makes me worse. Tried Bifidum (large intestine bacteria) instead, and seem to be improving… 1-3 formed BM’s/day. This is in the form of Natren Healthy Trinity right now…but it is expensive…
    Note that for a portion of this 3 month flare when I had D, I tried a Flax remedy that a friend from the Ukraine recommended:
    Boil then simmer 2TBSP flaxseed/half liter water to extract oils. Pour everything into a thermos. Drink this thick solution 3x day before meals to coat your insides. It helped. Now that my stools are more normal I only continue to take 2TBSP day bottled flaxoil & 2tsp/day of Cod Liver Oil. +5 fish oil caps of EPA/DHA 300/200.

    Taking DGL & Glutamine powder also helped get MY stool back in form.

    Scrutinize your supplements: I definitely got better after finding that my Multivitamin, Calcium, & Amino Acid contained Calcium Carbonate filler (basically an antacid). I stopped taking these and things improved.

    If you take Prednisone, take it with a Lactase pill to help neutralize the main ingredient in those pills– lactose filler!

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  17. I have a 10 year old daughter that was diagnosed with UC in July 2010!! I am desperate to look for an alternative “natural” treatment as the prescribed medications I do not feel are working. I was recently adviced to give her the Flax Seed 3 x’s a day in a tea form and to add a bit of surgar and cinnamon(i guess for flavor) but, I just read in another article that the flax seed should not be exposed to heat as it can casued toxins. Does anyone know if this is a true fact? desperate Mom in Florida!!

  18. I notice that “overpopulation in here” seems to be listing a lot of things that are very contradictory to one another. Yes, everyone is different when it comes to disorders of the gastrointestinal system, but it seems that he/she is stating a lot of things that are not correct.

    *you cannot really have too many “new” strains of bacteria introduced to your system. The most probable cause to your problems is that you were taking very strong medications (Asacol and Prednisone) which were causing the problem, NOT the probiotics. And having bacterial overgrowth is not tied to
    taking probiotics. Just have to know what probiotics to take.
    *the vast amounts of anti-biotics and steroids which doctors tend to administer to control these disorders is simply acting as a band aid, not a true treatment (Asacol is a perfect example).
    *Of course foods high in sugar will tend to aggravate your stomach, as well as the acid from fruit. If all you were eating was nuts, seeds and cheese, you are going to make your digestion work on overtime to digest those things. You were eating things that are polar opposites in their digestive properties. What made you think that eating nuts, seeds and cheese was a good idea? Those are very hard things to digest.
    *go to a knowledgeable health food store/pharmacy, where the pharmacist is familiar with autoimmune disease. Many people do not know that colitis is an autoimmune disease.
    *make sure you are not taking pills that are going to counteract one another. Vitamins can be very harsh on your system, but having bowel disorders usually makes it difficult to absorb our nutrients properly. Make sure to have something to help prep your stomach for whatever pills your are taking, unless the pill specifically needs to be taken on an empty stomach.

  19. Teri-
    There is no reason to heat the flax seed oil at all. You can get the seeds and grind them down finely in a coffee grinder, but you can also purchase the oil itself and put it in oatmeal, in a shake or other. You do not want to get whole flax seeds for her to take, as the key factor of the seed is its oil. That oil will not properly be digested in seed form.
    Keep in mind, flax seed oil can cause more bowel movements per day, which means that it can have her stomach working overtime.
    What other things have you been administering to her?
    I highly recommend researching probiotics which have a high “count” and multiple strain. Whole Foods has a good variety, but make sure to look into which strains are geared towards different parts of the digestive tract.

  20. My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with U.C about 3 years ago. She had a very rough time. We went to a specialist who recommended adding wheatgrass to her diet. We were relunctant to try it, but to our suprise, it seemed to be helping. The wheatgrass is run through a juicer. It has diminished her symptoms greatly. She had to get used to drinking it, however it beats the alternative.

  21. My wife was diagnosed with colitis about 4 years ago. After being prescribed a medication that clearly didn’t work, and 2 years of suffering, I decided to put her on supplements of potassium and magnesium. This calmed things down a little. But when her knee swelled up a year ago, she was diagnosed with rhumatoid arthritis. This seemed strange. She’s only 36. This led me to search for things that would help with inflamatory diseases. That’s when we found GROUND FLAXSEED! After taking two tablespoons per day,(in only two weeks), here knee swelling went down. And, within a month, all of her colitis symptoms were gone. It has been over a year, and still no symptoms. She eats anything she wants(even her favorite buffalo wing pizza), with no consequences. GROUND FLAXSEED has truly changed her life!

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