Skip Navigation
National Institute of Environmental Health SciencesNational Institutes of Health
Increase text size Decrease text size Print this page

Flaxseed Improves Outcome from Lung Injury

Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Ph.D.
Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
NIEHS Grant P30ES013508

NIEHS investigators have determined that administration of flax-seed oil helps to combat the adverse respiratory effects seen in a mouse model of ischemia-reperfusion injury. Pulmonary diseases including acute respiratory distress syndrome and post-lung transplantation dysfunctions are associated with an imbalance in the oxidant versus antioxidant state of the lung. Mice undergoing experimental ischemia-refusion lung injury that were fed ten percent flax seed in their diets had improved arterial blood oxygenation, increased levels on protein in bronchoalveolar lavage, and lower levels of oxidative lung damage compared to mice fed diets without flax seed supplementation.

Flax is a blue flowering plant that is grown on the Western Canadian Prairies for its oil rich seeds. This natural oil (also known as Linseed Oil) is recommended for general well being and nutrition and is considered to be nature's richest source of omega-3 fatty acids that are required for the health of almost all body systems. Some nutritionists, researchers, and scientists believe that it could be the most important health-promoting supplement next to a multi-vitamin. Nearly every system in the body can benefit from flax seed oil's natural antioxidant properties, including the cardiovascular, immune, circulatory, reproductive, and nervous systems.

This study raises the possibility that flax seed may be a useful antioxidant therapy for treating chronic inflammatory lung diseases. Preliminary studies suggest that human ingestion of just 25 grams of flax seed results in the same blood level of the active ingredients seen in the mouse study. Also, if the bioactive components of flax seed could be isolated and formulated for rapid administration, it may be possible to administer it to both donors and recipients in lung transplantation procedures to reduce the incidence and severity of ischemia-reperfusion injury or primary graft failure.

Citation: Lee JC, Bhora F, Sun J, Cheng G, Arguiri E, Solomides CC, Chatterjee S, Christofidou-Solomidou M. Dietary flaxseed enhances antioxidant defenses and is protective in a mouse model of lung ischemia-reperfusion injury. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2008 Feb;294(2):L255-65. Department of Health & Human Services National Institutes of Health
This page URL:
NIEHS website:
Email the Web Manager at
Last Reviewed: April 24, 2008