Flaxseed carrier oil, also known as linseed oil, is a carrier oil that is great for those with sensitive skin. Flaxseed oil, cold pressed from the seeds of Linum usitatissimum, is commonly used as a dietary supplement to relieve constipation, benefit heart health and aid in weight loss. As a carrier oil, flaxseed can reduce symptoms of eczema and psoriasis, moisturize the skin, reduce redness, swelling and inflammation, and heal minor wounds. When mixed with your favorite therapeutic essential oils, flaxseed can enhance their benefits and keep your skin safe from their potency. 1
History of Flaxseed Carrier Oil
Flaxseed has been cultivated since the beginning of civilization, making it one of the oldest crops. The botanical name of the plant Linum usitatissimum is Latin for ‘very useful’, due to the versatility of the plant and its ability to be used in myriad ways. Every part of the plant is used for commercial purposes, either directly or indirectly. The flaxseed plant was originally introduced to the America’s by early colonists so the fibers could be used to create clothing. The fibers, which come from the stem of the plant, are incredibly strong and durable, making them ideal for creating clothing that lasts a lifetime. The flax plant was traditionally used to make fabric and paper, and the oil that was pressed from the seeds (and its byproducts) were traditionally used for animal feed. 2
The flax plant is thought to have originated in Egypt, as fine linen fabrics have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Other specialists claim that the plant originated in the Mediterranean region. The plant spread widely throughout Eurasia for the production of fiber, as well as for food and medicinal use. Around 2000 BC, flax thread was used by Babylonians for weaving and the seeds were used medicinally. Around 1000 BC, ancient Egyptians used flaxseed oil in the embalming process, and linen was used to wrap mummies. Around 500 BC, Hippocrates used flaxseed oil as a laxative and a treatment for digestive disorders. Around 1600 AD, cold-pressed flaxseed oil was used medicinally to treat inflammation, chest infections, tumors, and abscesses.
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In the 1950s, flaxseed began being widely used as a dietary supplement. Johanna Budwig, a German biochemist, developed a diet known as the Budwig diet that was believed to be the cure for cancer. This diet included flaxseed oil, as well as a variety of other natural foods, and was thought to be a cure for – in addition to cancer – diabetes, infertility, heart disease, and other disorders. 3
In the Middle Ages, flaxseed oil was used to treat kidney disorders, treat tumors, relieve a cough, reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and even remove freckles!
In Ayurvedic medicine, flaxseed oil is believed to fight fatigue and prevent signs of aging. Flaxseed oil is believed to balance the pH of the skin, improve skin elasticity, remove blemishes, heal wounds, moisturize the skin, and restore luster.
The composition of Flaxseed Carrier Oil
Flaxseed carrier oil is cold pressed from the seeds of the flax plant. The resulting oil is pale yellow in color. Its ability to treat a variety of skin conditions and relieve inflammation is due to its composition, which is primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA can make up as much as 50-70% of the oil! Oleic acid can also be found in this oil, in quantities of 10-20%. In smaller amounts, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, stearic acid, and vitamin E can also be found. Flaxseed is actually the richest known source of alpha-linolenic acid!
Alpha-linolenic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid known for its ability to support heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease and reducing high blood pressure. When used topically, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It can also reduce redness, relieve symptoms of eczema and psoriasis, reduce signs of aging, and can help skin retain moisture.
Oleic acid is known for its abilities to moisturize skin and hair, reduce signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, boost immunity and reduce joint stiffness and pain.
Uses of Flaxseed Carrier Oil
While flaxseed carrier oil boasts a lot of benefits on its own, when mixed with your favorite blend of essential oils, it can create soothing massage oils, cleansing soaps, moisturizing lotions and a variety of other bath and beauty products.
Reduce skin sensitivity
Regular consumption of flaxseed oil is thought to reduce skin sensitivity, making it an ideal oil for those who have sensitive skin. In a 2011 study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, the effects of both flaxseed oil and safflower seed oil on skin sensitivity were tested. In the study, two groups of females with sensitive skin were given oral supplements of either flaxseed oil or safflower seed oil over the course of twelve weeks. At the end of the study, those who were given flaxseed oil showed significant decreases in skin sensitivity. Additionally, skin roughness had decreased, and smoothness and hydration were increased. 4
Sensitive skin can also be treated topically with the use of flaxseed carrier oil. To help soothe sensitive skin, combine a few drops of lavender and chamomile essential oils with flaxseed carrier oil and gently massage onto the skin. You can also use small amounts of flaxseed carrier oil as a daily hydrating oil on its own.
Treat inflammatory skin conditions
Flaxseed carrier oil is a wonderful choice of carrier oil if you are suffering from inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. In the same study mentioned above, those who were treated with flaxseed oil had much smoother, softer skin after 12 weeks of treatment.
To treat symptoms of eczema and psoriasis and increase the softness of your skin, mix a few drops of tea tree, lavender, and geranium essential oils to flaxseed carrier oil and gently massage onto affected areas. For best results, apply daily.
These same anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce inflammation and pain in the joints. To ease joint pain, add a few drops of rosemary and peppermint essential oils to flaxseed carrier oil and massage gently onto sore areas. For an even more soothing massage oil, gently heat the oil before using.
Treat minor wounds
Flaxseed carrier oil can help heal minor wounds, such as scrapes, cuts, burns or bites. In a 2017 study published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative medicine, the efficacy of flaxseed oil was tested on burn wounds on New Zealand rabbits. The results of the study showed that the wounds that were treated with flaxseed oil had a shorter healing period than those that were left untreated or treated with vaseline or Cicatryl-Bio ointment. The flaxseed oil also caused no negative side effects. 5
In another study, published in 2011, the effects of flaxseed oil were tested on skin wounds in rats. The results of this study showed that the rats who were treated with flaxseed oil showed significant dermal repair and a significant decrease of scabs. 6
Though these studies were tested on rabbits and rats instead of humans, they show the potential of flaxseed oil to be used as a natural, safe treatment for burn wounds and minor cuts. To treat minor wounds, mix a few drops of tea tree and manuka essential oils to flaxseed carrier oil and apply to the affected areas. Repeat daily until symptoms improve.
Reduce signs of aging
The high quantities of alpha-linolenic acid present in flaxseed carrier oil help regenerate skin cells, plump skin, and visibly reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
To reduce these tell-tale signs of aging, mix a few drops of helichrysum essential oil to flaxseed essential oil and dab a small amount around the eyes and wherever signs of aging occur.
Restore moisture to the skin
Flaxseed carrier oil is great for restoring moisture to dry, scaly skin, especially during those long winter months. On its own, it can help restore moisture and keep skin smooth and soft. When mixed with essential oils known for their skin replenishing properties, these benefits are enhanced even further.
Naturally, condition hair
A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can help improve shine, length, and strength of hair. When you are lacking these essential fatty acids, your hair can become brittle and dry. Taking flaxseed oil internally can help give you the essential nutrition you need to have thick, shiny, healthy hair. If not taking this oil internally, you can reap similar benefits by using it in small amounts as a natural conditioner.
The vitamin E content of flaxseed carrier oil can help moisturize hair and nourish hair follicles. You can apply a small amount of this oil directly to split ends to help add moisture, or you can use a larger amount once a week to deeply moisturize all of your hair. To do so, wet hair in the shower and then towel dry so the hair is still damp. Add a few drops of lavender and clary sage essential oils to the flaxseed carrier oil, and gently massage from the scalp down. Wrap your hair in a towel and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse out the oil with a gentle shampoo.
Safety and Precautions
There are no known side effects of using flaxseed carrier oil topically, though care should still be taken to conduct a patch test before applying over larger areas of the skin. If taking this oil internally, you should ensure that the particular brand of oil you are using is meant for that purpose. When taking the oil internally, be aware that large doses can cause diarrhea.
Flaxseed oil has a comedogenic rating of 4, meaning that it is known to clog the pores. If you have acne-prone skin, it is not recommended to use this oil topically, especially on the face. For those who are not prone to acne, this oil can still be used topically to help soothe and nourish dry skin. However, taking flaxseed oil internally is thought to help clear breakouts. 7
Flaxseed carrier oil typically has a very short shelf life and can go rancid as early as six months after opening. To extend the shelf life of this carrier oil, you should store this oil in the refrigerator. 8 Do not continue use of this oil if you suspect it has gone rancid. You can tell by the scent – flaxseed oil that has gone rancid tends to smell burnt and bitter. Many people say that flaxseed oil that has gone rancid has a scent similar to used frying oil.
Flaxseed carrier oil is highly versatile and a perfect choice for those who have sensitive skin. It can be used both topically and internally to treat a wide variety of symptoms, and its healing properties can be extended by using it as a carrier oil for your favorite therapeutic essential oils. It can be used in the preparation of homemade soaps, lotions, moisturizers, cleansers, massage oils, and other beauty products. When used topically, it can improve the condition of skin and reduce signs of aging, and when used internally, it can help boost heart health and ease constipation. With all of its beneficial properties, flaxseed carrier oil should be an essential part of your daily routine.
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