More MS news articles for January 2001

Flaxseed touted as a tonic

Call it this year's echinacea.

Thomas Ropp
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 18, 2001

In the world of alternative medicines, flaxseed is hot, hot. hot.

It's been touted for everything from the cold and flu to arthritis, depression, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer's, high cholesterol - even obesity.

If it sounds like so much snake oil, it's really about essential fatty acid oils, the good ones like omega-3 and omega-6 that are found in abundance in this common grain.

Caron Pedersen. a nutritionist and chiropractor in Scottsdale, specializes in treating cancer recovery patients and those who suffer from chronic fatigue. She recommends flaxseed for its anti-inflammatory, anti-viral properties. She said it helps with depression, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's because the essential fatty acids in flaxseed improve the sheathes around nerve cells. Pedersen said she discovered its benefits firsthand after she came down with chronic fatigue and hepatitis a few years ago while living in San Francisco.

"I was an athlete in college," Pedersen said. "I was healthy as could be one day, then sick and bedridden the next."

She said the turning point in regaining her health was trying flaxseed.

"It has an interesting effect," Pedersen said. "You actually feel clearer-headed."

Marti Havens of Glendale is a nutritionist and owner of MJH Nutrition Services. She agrees that flaxseed is finally getting its due. She said some of her clients buy flaxseed for weight control because its essential fatty acids reduce body fat while sparing lean muscle tissue.

Dr. Paul Howard, a Scottsdale rheumatologist, said that while there are still a lot of anecdotal (unproven) claims concerning flaxseed, clinical studies support some of its purported benefits.

"As an anti-inflammatory, it's excellent," said Howard, who prescribes flaxseed oil to his arthritis patients. "It also has been proven to improve vascular health by lowering cholesterol and helping with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)."

Reach the reporter at or at (602) 444-8820