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The Effects of Flaxseed for patients with Colitis, Crohn's Disease, Stapled Stomach and "Bleeders" (blood does not clot readily)

These are all conditions where flaxseed meal can be helpful. I will elaborate on each of them and give references where available A lot of the rationale for prescribing flaxseed to patients in these situations is based on an understanding of these conditions and what kind of intervention makes the most sense. Each individual should develop a good working knowledge of the processes that have gone awry in him or her. I am absolutely amazed at the number of people who simply do not research their own conditions. Your mind is the most powerful healing tool you have, if it understands the fundamental process, it will come up with the best course of action. No one thing is a panacea for these folks, flaxseed is a good place to start an intervention but they will need to go further to enjoy the best health they can.

Colitis is, literally, inflammation of the colon. One has to determine why this is happening. The soluble fiber and oils in flax can be very soothing to an inflamed intestinal membrane. If the patient has diverticulosis, the seeds have to be ground very finely. Flora should be introduced at some time with the flaxseed meal, I recommend Garden of Life's Primal Defense powder and start with a small amount and increase as at is well tolerated. Consider the website Nutritionlifestyles.com as a decent reference source.

Crohn's disease is a chronic and long lasting ulceration of a section or sections of the digestive tract. Most commonly, it occurs in the lowest portion of the small intestine (ileum...where B12 should be absorbed) and the large intestine. The ulceration affects the full thickness of the intestinal wall, through all layers of the intestinal wall and involves the entire digestive system, from the mouth to the anus, as well as the adjacent lymph nodes. The inflamed parts heal, leaving scar tissue that narrows the passageway. The inflammation tends to reoccur in the same areas of the colon and when the area is surgically removed (not a cure, just temporarily relieving symptoms), Inflammation will strike another area.

Crohn's disease is similar to ulcerative colitis in many respects. Both involve loss of appetite, abdominal pain, general malaise, weight loss, diarrhea and rectal bleeding. The primary difference between the two conditions is the degree of involvement of the wall of the intestine. Ulcerative colitis is limited to the mucosa and submucosa (first two layers of the wall). Crohn's disease also involves the next two layers, the muscular layer and the connective tissue layer below it. Intervention from a Naturopathic perspective is directed at managing the inflammation. Flaxseed meal can help immensely for these people, but is not necessarily going to be well tolerated by everyone, even if it is finely ground. The soluble fiber and the oils are wonderfully soothing and anti-inflammatory. For those patients who don't tolerate the flaxseed meal, I put them on Benefiber (a guar gum soluble fiber) three times a day and Nordic Naturals cod Liver oil, 1 tsp. three times a day. These measures usually work well and are based on the same premise as the Flaxseed meal prescription. Consider the website Newtreatments.org for a list of references as well as more in depth information on the treatment of Crohn's.

A stapled stomach is a somewhat barbaric method for weight loss. The idea is that you are starving this person on purpose. The stomach expands over time but malnutrition is the side effect. Ironically, weight gain/maintenance is a survival strategy that a body will employ when it finds itself in a nutritionally lacking environment. That is, if you are not eating enough food or you have a relative deficiency of a nutrient, your body will begin to slow its metabolism in order to preserve the resources that have been already stored, i.e., fat. Flaxseed meal is appropriate for these patients when they need to normalize bowel function, if they have diarrhea or constipation. The oils and fiber help to manage blood sugar fluctuations after meals so that these people can avoid the most common long-term sequelae of the surgery, diabetes. They should also be given B12/Folic acid injections, a good whey protein powder, a good multiple like New Chapter's Every man or woman, and some flora like Primal Defense.

Bleeders can develop even thinner blood from the oils in flax. After 3-4 weeks, the body usually accommodates and the effect is much less. I use the flax regularly with people on blood thinners in an effort to reduce or eliminate their warfarin intake. Being a bleeder is not always a bad thing, one really needs to find out why the patient has this tendency and what sort of intervention would be most appropriate.

Some decent references are Pizzorno and Murray's Textbook of Natural Medicine, and their Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. The Natural Pharmacy by Lininger, Wright, and et al is another decent reference.