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While herbs are the most commonly used tools for most herbalists, we often suggest the use of vitamins and other nutritional supplements to help fulfill roles that herbs cannot. One important role is that of essential fatty acid supplementation.  As their name implies, essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are essential to the functioning of the human body.  Every cell in our body has a membrane surrounding it.  This membrane helps to protect the contents of the cell by selectively allowing nutrients to pass into the cell and waste to exit out.  Lipids (or fats) are a major component of that membrane.  EFAs are the building blocks that the body uses to make cellular membranes.  If you provide your body with nothing but low quality fats (e.g. trans or rancid fats), it has no choice but to use these as their building blocks.  This effect can be felt most notably in the brain where lipids play a vital role in functioning and communication.

Flax vs. Fish

Now some of you may be wondering why I recommend flaxseed oil verses fish oil.  While fish oil is an excellent source of EFAs there are some other issues you should be aware of.  Due to overfishing and pollution, our fish stores are severely depleted.  In as little as fifty years we could be looking at the total extinction of some (or all) of our fish species.  Toxicity and bioaccumulation are other issues you should think about.  Bioaccumulation refers to the accumulation of substances, such as chemicals and other toxins, in organisms.  Sadly our fish, and their food sources, live in a toxic and polluted environment.  Zooplankton eat phytoplankton, small fish eat zooplankton and large fish eat small fish.  The accumulated toxins and chemicals found in phytoplankton will pass onto the zooplankton and so on.  This is the effect of bioaccumulation.  As we pass through each level of the food chain, higher levels of toxicity can be found.

Many who prefer to use fish oil will state the issues with conversion as one of their arguments.  Flaxseed oil contains the essential fatty acid alphalinolenic acid (ALA).  The body must then convert that ALA to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the EFAs found in fish oil.  The body does not convert ALA to EPA and DHA very efficiently, but if flaxseed oil is taken in sufficient amounts the conversion is not an issue.  I usually recommend 2-3 tsp daily.

Taking Your Flaxseed Oil

Although flaxseed oil is vital to human functioning, it is the one nutritional supplement that I have the most compliance issues with my clients.  Many people are unfamiliar with incorporating oils into their diet and some find the taste of flaxseed oil less appealing than other oils.  It is because of this common compliance problem that I have decided to provide some tips on how to take your flaxseed oil.

Please note that flaxseed oil is not heat stable and can therefore should be used to cook with.


If you are not a fan of the taste of flaxseed oil smoothies are one the easiest ways to take it while hiding the taste.  I have a smoothie for breakfast most mornings.  Here is my recipe:

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup of frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc.
  • 1 tsp of greens powder
  • 3 tsp of flax oil
  • 1 tbsp of hemp seeds
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Almond milk (to desired thickness)



Yogurt is another excellent way to incorporate flaxseed oil into your diet with little impact on the taste of your food.  I also add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon to the yogurt… makes it taste very yummy!


Salad Dressing

When used as a salad dressing the recipes can be a simple or complicated as you would like.  For a simple recipe add equal parts of flaxseed oil to lemon juice.  Check out the other recipes below:

Green Onion Dressing

  • 3 green onions
  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ½ cup of flaxseed oil
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1-1/2 tsp of salt
    • Combine all ingredients in a food processor

Liquid Gold Dressing

  • ½ cup of flaxseed oil
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup of tamari or Bragg Liquid Aminos
  • ¼ to ½ cup of nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Lemonflax Dressing

  • ¼ cup of flaxseed oil
  • 1-2 tsp of fresh chives
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Approximately 4 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tomato
    • Combine all ingredients in a food processor

Garlic Flax Dressing

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup flaxseed oil
  • ¼ cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar


Other Suggestions

Still looking for more ideas?  Try adding the flaxseed oil to the following (after they are cooked):

  • Oatmeal
  • Rice, quinoa and other grain dishes
  • Nut butters
    • Pour off some of the oil that rises to the top of the nut butter and replace it with flaxseed oil.  Mix well.
    • Steamed vegetables
    • Mashed potatoes


In good health,