Flaxseed and Dry Eyes

Do you know about flaxseed and dry eyes? It's important to know that you take flaxseed and flaxseed oil by mouth. You do not apply them to your eyes. But this inexpensive supplement is one of the best treatments known for dry and red eyes.

Flaxseed is a food. It comes from a flowering plant, the same plant harvested for the making of linen. It is an exceptionally rich source of the n-3 essential fatty acids, the fatty acids the human body uses to make anti-inflammatory hormones.

Scientists in Brazil investigating the connection between flaxseed and dry eyes have tested flaxseed as a remedy for a condition known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, which is the medical term for dry, red, inflamed eyes.

Giving women a 1,000 mg capsule of flaxseed oil, a 2,000 mg capsule of flaxseed oil, or a placebo every day for 180 days, the medical researchers found that either dosage of flaxseed oil reduced the inflammation associated with dry eyes.

But the benefits of flaxseed oil are not limited to adults. Doctors at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London prescribed children aged 7 months to 15 years a smaller dose of flaxseed oil every day for 2 years. They found that flaxseed oil relieved inflammation caused by chronic infections such as pinkeye, and was generally as effective as long-term antibiotics.

The beneficial connections of flaxseed and dry eyes don't stop there. Scientists at Australia's University of Melbourne found that supplemental flaxseed oil lowers intraocular pressure, the primary symptom of glaucoma.

Flaxseed oil lowers eye pressure by encouraging the flow of fluids out of the eye, much as diuretics might lower eye pressure, but without the increased urination or potentially dangerous loss of the body's potassium supply.

You don't have to take flaxseed oil to get the benefits of flaxseed. Flaxseed also, as you might expect, is sold as seed. Because the seeds are very tiny and can pass right through your digestive tract, however, you need to grind them before you eat them.

A teaspoon or two can provide a nutty flavor to oatmeal, cream of wheat, or fruit shakes and other blended beverages. And you don't have to use flaxseed alone.

Many nutritionally oriented ophthalmologists now recommend that their patients take both flaxseed oil and fish oils, the combination providing a better range of n-3 essential fatty acids than either product taken alone.

The combination of these two widely available and inexpensive nutritional supplements is a great way to relieve dryness, itching, burning, and blurred vision causes by simple irritation of the cornea or sclera (white) of the eye, or minor infections of the eyelid.

Now that you know the science of flaxseed and dry eyes there are only a few practical tips. Oils rich in n-3 essential fatty acids are easily damaged by heat or light.

When you are buying flaxseed oil, try to find a cold-pressed variety and make sure you keep it in the refrigerator when you are not using it.

Similarly, the best brands of fish oil are kept under refrigeration at the store and should be stored in the refrigerator at home.

If you are adventurous, you can even buy brands of these oils that offer strawberry, raspberry, vanilla, or chocolate flavored capsules so that any aftertaste from taking the nutritional supplement is pleasant.

If you are a vegan or a vegetarian, you will not want to take fish oil. Users of fish oil should be forewarned that some brands can cause "fishy burps" after use, and that excessive use can result in diarrhea, acid reflux, or flatulence.

You will also want to make sure that your brand of fish oil is certified not to contain mercury. Using flaxseed oil in a vegetarian approach to flaxseed and dry eyes, of course, poses none of these concerns.


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