Alternative Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil

Integrative therapies should not replace antiretroviral therapy (ART) for HIV patients. Patients should consult their healthcare providers before taking any herbs or supplements because they may interact with treatment. In particular, patients should not take St. John’s wort because it may interact with HIV treatment.

Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence

Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil/linseed oil are rich sources of the essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (omega-6). While flaxseed has been used to treat HIV/AIDS, no strong evidence supports its use and no recommendation can be made without further research.

Flaxseed has been well tolerated in studies for up to four months.

  • Avoid if allergic to flaxseed, flaxseed oil, or other plants of the Linaceae family.
  • Avoid with prostrate cancer, breast cancer, uterine cancer, or endometriosis.
  • Avoid ingestion of immature flaxseed pods.
  • Avoid large amounts of flaxseed by mouth and mix plenty of water or liquid.
  • Avoid flaxseed (not flaxseed oil) with history of esophageal stricture, ileus, gastrointestinal stricture, or bowel obstruction.
  • Avoid with history of acute or chronic diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulitis (inflammation of the diverticula, small sacs in the intestine’s inner lining), or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Avoid topical flaxseed in open wounds or abraded skin surfaces.
  • Use cautiously with history of a bleeding disorder or with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding (such as anticoagulants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories).
  • Use cautiously with high triglyceride levels, diabetes, mania, seizures, or asthma.
  • Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Selected References Accessed March 29, 2009.
    American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Halperin DT, Steiner MJ, Cassell MM, et al. The time has come for common ground on preventing sexual transmission of HIV.Lancet. 2004 Nov 27-Dec 3;364(9449):1913-5.
    Loutfy MR, Antoniou T, Shen S, et al. Virologic and immunologic impact and durability of enfuvirtide-based antiretroviraltherapy in HIV-infected treatment-experienced patients in a clinical setting. HIV Clin Trials. 2007Jan-Feb;8(1):36-44.
    National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD). Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Copyright © 2009. Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Rigopoulos D, Gregoriou S, Paparizos V, et al. AIDS in pregnancy, part II: Treatment in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy and management of obstetric, anesthetic, and pediatric issues. Skinmed. 2007 Mar-Apr;6(2):79-84.
    The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource. Accessed March 29, 2009.
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Accessed March 29, 2009.
    Vrouenraets SM, Wit FW, van Tongeren J, et al. Efavirenz: a review. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2007 Apr;8(6):851-71.