Flax for burns: Study reveals oil from flaxseed reduces inflammation and speeds healing in burn wounds

The future of burn treatment may be in flaxseed oil, according to a study made by researchers from the Université des Frères Mentouri Constantine 1 in Algeria. The paper, titled “Evaluation of crude flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum L.) oil in burn wound healing in New Zealand rabbits,” looked at the properties of the plant-based oil in treating deep burn wounds using animal studies. The findings of the team were published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines.

Flaxseed, the common name of Linum usitatissimum L., is a crop that has been used by people for a very long time. While it has mainly been grown for oil, fiber, and food, interest in studying its therapeutic properties have been increasing for the past decades — mainly because of its health benefits. Both flaxseed and its oil derivative, flaxseed oil, are known to contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid that protects the brain, as well as various biologically active components, antioxidants, and proteins. Aside from being an antioxidant, flaxseed also has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. (Related: Flaxseed oil could reduce the risk of osteoporosis.)

To note, Linum usitatissimum L. also goes by the name linseed. Flaxseed, however, refers to L. usitatissimum L. when in it used for human consumption, while linseed is the name it goes by when it is used for industrial and feed purposes.

For the study, researchers examined the effects of linseed oil when it is applied to burn wounds that are in process of healing using in vivo tests on rabbits. First, the team selected eight rabbits for the experiment. The group was divided into two — the control and experimental groups. Burn injuries were then induced in both groups, and the healing process was observed. However, during the healing process, linseed oil was topically applied to the wounds of some rabbits in the experimental group.

Results showed that wounds that were treated using linseed oil healed faster than those using other burn creams. In addition, a tissue examination revealed that compared to other wounds, those treated with linseed oil showed reduced inflammatory cells and almost no epidermal damage. The research team attributed the results to biologically active compounds present in linseed oil known to help with wound repair. Moreover, the oil’s high flavonoid content might have triggered collagen formation in the affected area.

Another factor that they considered was the high number of terpenoids present in linseed oil, which help with the contraction of tissues during the healing process. It also contained tocopherols (vitamin E), beta-carotene, and other compounds that have high antioxidant activity.

Researchers concluded that applying linseed oil to wounds promote faster healing. “The present experiment has confirmed that linseed oil compounds have bioactive properties that render it effective in promoting wound healing activity compared with well known commercial drugs,” they wrote in the report. “Moreover, they do not produce any adverse effects which make this oil a promising treatment of skin wounds or ulcers.”

They also explained that further studies were still needed to better analyze and identify which compounds in linseed oil are primarily responsible for healing wounds and burns.

The findings presented by the study open up more uses for this truly versatile plant.

To learn more about flaxseed and how it can help you further, head over to FoodScience.news today.

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