Tucker Max wrote again, with new data:
I started taking two tablespoons of flax seed oil about a month after reading this post by you [about Tyler Cowen’s dental experience] (sometime around the beginning of August, I think). I decided to try it because I have had bleeding gums for about as long as I can remember. This has always confused me, because I don’t have any cavities and have otherwise good dental health. I would always ask my dentists about this, and they would always tell me I didn’t floss enough, but even when I would floss regularly, the bleeding wouldn’t totally stop. After about a week or so of two tablespoons of flax seed oil a day, I had virtually no gum bleeding. I didn’t change anything else.
Then, about two weeks ago, my girlfriend pointed something out to me: I was not taking pain relievers anymore. I train in amateur mixed martial arts (MMA), which is a very intense, full contact combat sport that combines boxing, muay thai, brazilian jiu-jitsu, and wrestling. For as long as I’ve been training in it, I have had to deal with muscle soreness and pain in my joints, and to deal with it, I would take 4-6 ibuprofen before training. But, for about the past three months, I wasn’t in enough pain to need it. I didn’t really think about it at first, just chalking it up to getting tougher. But that doesn’t make sense–I’ve been training in MMA for well over a year, and the only thing I have done differently in the past three months is start taking flax seed oil. I wasn’t 100% sure that the flax seed oil was making the difference, but considering the effect it has on inflammation–which is what ibuprofen is for–it made sense.
That was when I sent you the emails you posted. One of your commenters accused me of falling victim to the placebo effect, so I decided to test it. I stopped taking flaxseed oil on November 5th. At the time, my gums were not bleeding, I had no joint pain or soreness of any significance, and I felt great overall.
As I write this it’s November 15th. My gums have bled heavily when I brushed this week, especially the past few days, and I have intense pain in both shoulders, soreness in my left elbow, and my knees are throbbing. I had intended to go two weeks without taking any flaxseed oil, but I am stopping the experiment now because this is all the proof I need.
One more interesting fact: I took four tablespoons a few hours ago, instead of the regular two, thinking that maybe I could load up and it might help me get back to normal quickly. The pain is pretty much the same, and I just brushed and my gums bled, so obviously the flaxseed oil takes more than a few hours to affect those problems. But–and I haven’t measured this with reaction tests like you do–I feel considerably more mentally alert right now. I don’t know if I felt like this before, and maybe I didn’t notice it because it came on slowly, or maybe I need four tablespoons at once to see a difference, but I really do feel the difference.