Flaxseed Oil Cures Bleeding Gums in Three Days

I am pleased by these results:

After a possibly overzealous dentist told me I need a gum graft [which may cost $3000], my husband encouraged me to start taking flaxseed oil. A few people online have reported that flaxseed oil dramatically improved their gum health, and we figured it was worth a shot.

My initial dose of flaxseed oil was two tablespoons a day, and my gums stopped bleeding and hurting within three days. This is pretty huge for me, because my gums have been bleeding since I was in junior high. [Emphasis added.] At the same time, I added using a Sonicare toothbrush and flossing a little more vigorously. Considering that I had tried these things in the past without the flaxseed oil and they only made me bleed more, I feel like the flaxseed oil is the difference maker.

I have subsequently reduced my flaxseed oil dose to one tablespoon, which I feel is more appropriate for a woman my size. I haven’t gained any weight from the flaxseed oil, which was a bit of a surprise. Taking it in the morning seems to help curb my appetite by at least the 130 calories it consumes.

The online reports she mentions are from this blog. A recap: Because of the Shangri-La Diet, one evening I took four or five flaxseed oil capsules. The next morning, I was surprised to notice that putting on my shoes standing up, which I’d done hundreds of times, was much easier than usual. This suggested that the flaxseed oil had improved my balance. I started to carefully measure my balance and varied my flaxseed oil intake. My measurements showed that variations in amount of flaxseed oil really did affect my balance. They also suggested the best dose. My balance improved up to a dose of 3 tablespoons/day of flaxseed oil. So the best dose was about 3 tablespoons per day. I blogged about this.

Tyler Cowen, inspired by my results, started taking 2 tablespoons/day. A month later, he no longer needed gum surgery. Knowing nothing about my flaxseed oil intake or Tyler Cowen’s results, my dentist told me my gums were in excellent shape, better than ever. My sister’s gums showed similar improvement. Tucker Max noticed his gums stopped bleeding after he started taking flaxseed oil. He’d had bleeding gums most of his adult life. Nothing else had helped. He also found training injuries healed faster. When he stopped drinking flaxseed oil, his gums soon got worse. Carl Willat noticed dramatic gum improvement. Joyce Cohen had excellent results (her gums were “in great shape — better than ever”). Tim Beneke and Jack Rusher had similar results. Gary Wolf, on the other hand, didn’t like the mental effects. A recent epidemiological study found a weak correlation between inflamed gums and omega-3 intake.

What have I learned? Above all, that such a pattern of results is possible. These results suggest there was/is a big hole in the usual nutritional ideas. Tyler Cowen, me, my sister, etc., were eating a conventionally “good diet” yet there was a lot of room for improvement, both in brain function and overall inflammation level. (I’m sure flaxseed oil heals gums because it reduces inflammation.) And improvement wasn’t hard — there was a simple fix. In other words, omega-3 deficiency is very common. The conventional deficiency diseases, such as scurvy and pellagra, were/are rare. They appeared only under extreme conditions with very limited diets (e.g., prison, long sea voyage). Yet just as scurvy and pellagra are easily cured, there is a simple cure for omega-3 deficiency: about 2 tablespoons/day of flaxseed oil. (Perhaps ground flaxseed is an even better source.)

Other facts support the idea of widespread omega-3 deficiency. When gums are very red, and bleed very easily, it’s called gingivitis. According to this article, ” estimates of the general prevalence of adult gingivitis vary from approximately 50 to 100%”. Heart disease is common. There’s plenty of evidence that heart disease is caused by inflammation (gated). For example, it’s well-known that inflamed gums correlate with heart disease. Statins may reduce heart disease — to the mild extent they do — because they reduce inflammation.

I also learned that psychology can help improve general health (too much inflammation causes all sorts of problems, as Tucker Max’s experience suggests). My background in experimental psychology made it easy for me to measure balance.  I also found other mental tests were sensitive to flaxseed oil. These mental tests were like an animal model in the sense that they made helpful experiments (e.g., different doses) much easier. My friend Kenneth Carpenter, in his book about the discovery of Vitamin C (gated), stressed the importance of an animal model of scurvy. Once the best dose of flaxseed oil (for me) was known, it turned out to be easy to take a dose that produced dramatic improvement (in others).

The idea that psychology and self-experimentation can improve overall health is new. I presented my flaxseed oil results at a meeting of the Psychonomic Society a few years ago. After my talk, one member of the audience, a professor of psychology at Illinois State University, angrily complained that my talk was “pop culture” — not even pop psychology — and said I shouldn’t have been allowed to speak. He thought I had made elementary mistakes.

Flaxseed oil better than fish oil. Bad results of flaxseed oil.

17 Responses to “Flaxseed Oil Cures Bleeding Gums in Three Days”

  1. Allen K. Says:

    I think you’ve mentioned before, but I can’t locate it now — where do you recommend buying flaxseed oil in Berkeley? (Where I am presently.) And was there a kind to get vs. a kind to avoid?

  2. Flaxseed Oil? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page Says:

    [...] [...]

  3. Seth Roberts Says:

    I have tried Spectrum, Barleans, and the Whole Food house brand flaxseed oil and noticed no differences between them. I have bought them at Andronico’s and Whole Foods.

  4. SM Says:

    Seth,

    The overall effect seems substantiated, but the mechanism, not so much. How do you know it’s the omega 3? And wouldn’t it be pretty easy to test this — just substitute the flaxseed oil for fish oil and see if the effect remains? If anything, the effect should be stronger, since omega 3 from animal sources is shown to be much better assimilated by humans.

    Also, if it is in fact omega 3 (a big if), I think a much better prescription is to cut down on omega 6 rather than load up on omega 3. Omega 3s are anti-inflammatory only because most people’s diets are way too overloaded with omega 6s as a result of our modern industrial diet/food system. Omega 3s just balance out Omega 6s (they work antagonistically), they aren’t really anti-inflammatory in and of themselves. Always better to eat a good diet rather than supplement to make up for a deficiency, in my opinion.

  5. SM Says:

    BTW, just noticed the flax oil vs. fish oil link at the bottom of the post. So I guess that’s one data point negating the omega 3 mechanism.

  6. Mike Says:

    As always, interesting stuff, Seth. What are you thoughts on the low human conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA, and, based on that, fish oil supplementation over flax?

    Or is there a constitute of flax beyond EPA & DHA that is reducing inflammation?

  7. Seth Roberts Says:

    Mike, I think that the experiments that have measured conversion rate have not realized there is a large effect of experience: the more you eat a food, the better you get at digesting it. They probably gave ALA to people unfamiliar with it.

  8. Seth Roberts Says:

    SM, I believe that omega-3 is responsible for several reasons, above all that others have gotten similar results with fish oil. “Better to eat a good diet”: It is much easier to vary the dose by varying amount of flaxseed oil. Varying the amount of omega-6 by varying the amount of “good diet” would be hard. Simply reducing the amount of omega-6 will not necessarily increase the amount of omega-3 in the brain. It may be much easier to increase the amount of omega-3 in the brain by increasing the amount in the diet.

  9. Julia Says:

    Very interesting! My gum health has improved since I’ve been adding 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to my yogurt in the morning. Not to mention my hair and nails are doing exceptionally well.

  10. Seth Roberts Says:

    Julia, that’s very interesting. Could you say more about the improvement in your gums, hair, and nails? When did you start adding 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your yogurt? What caused you to make this change?

  11. Fred Stange DDS Says:

    I have also seen the benefits of Omega 3 oils in my patient’s diet. In 3 different instances i have asked what the difference in their hygiene routine was…nothing, just adding the Omega 3. Of course this will not take the place of brushing and flossing as you see here…our writer began brushing and flossing better as well. The Omega3 reduces the inflammation in the body and thus the gum tissue improves as well. Bleeding gum is the body response to “infectious” bacteria remove the bacteria and the body response will return to less bleeding. Brushing Flossing and Omega3 things will look much better. Your gum graft may be a separate issue as the Omega3 oils will not change bone levels below the gum tissue however this is a separate issue and sounds like you are on a good track!

  12. Daz Says:

    my last comment did not appear. so this is a test comment.
    thanks for the post Seth.

  13. Daz Says:

    Thanks for some very informative articles on Flax.
    Your post ‘flaxseed-oil-vs-fish-oil’ was a great brief snapshot for me.
    Paul Jaminet pointed me over here, after i asked a question on ALA (from Flax oil).
    Reading your posts has reinforced my recent decision to start back on the flax oil after i quit back in Jan this year (2011).
    From memory i quit to reduce my Poly intake & after reading some negative comments over at raypeat.com on linseed (flaxseed).

    Have you tried Chia Oil, its EFA breakdown is very similar to Flax Oil, do you think it would work the same as Flax oil?

  14. Seth Roberts Says:

    Comments must be approved before they appear.

  15. Seth Roberts Says:

    I haven’t tried Chia Oil. I will look into it. Yeah, if its EFA profile is similar it should have similar effects.

  16. Tana Says:

    I started taking 2 TB of flax oil daily about four days ago and now my gums are barely bleeding at all after I brush and floss. My gums were red, swollen and would bleed after I brushed and flossed and are now pink and healthy looking.

    I’ve had this problem for years and I could not understand why it would keep happening even though I was consistent with my dental routine. I take the berry flavored Barlean’s flax oil mainly because it tastes good and so I look forward to taking it- if it was gross I would not be consistent with taking it.

    Anyhow, thanks for the information! I wish dentists would look into this but they probably won’t so I’m glad that you do.

  17. Parviz Edalat Says:

    That’s very attractive. Can you say more concerning the development in your gums, hair, and nails? When did you start adding up 2 tablespoons of land flax-seed to your yogurt? What caused you to create this change?