Antimalarial effects of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil.

January 1, 1995 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Antimalarial effects of Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil.

Year: 1995
Authors: O A Levander, A L Ager.
Publication Name: Flaxseed in Human Nutrition, AOCS Press, Champaign, Ill.
Publication Details: 237;243.


This paper reviews studies conducted by the authors in which they assessed the effects of dietary ALA in the form of flaxseed and flaxseed oil as an antimalarial agent. The research arose from reports that omega 3 PUFAs have protective effects against a variety of parasites in mice. Four groups of mice were fed diets containing: Vitamin E plus 12.5% ground FS, 12.5% ground flaxseed (Vitamin E deficient) or lard based diets, one of which was deficient in Vitamin E. Mice were injected with parasites and assessed for survival rates 60 days after injection. The results showed that the ground flaxseed diet exerted a pronounced suppressive effect on the growth of parasites in Vitamin E deficient animals. Eight of the initial 10 animals survived in comparison to 0 animals in the flaxseed /Vitamin E treatment; lard/Vitamin E treatment and control animals who were fed a basal diet. Feeding 5% FO in a Vitamin E deficient diet conducted under the same protocol also produced a highly significant protective effect on survival rates. The authors attributed the antimalarial effects of flaxseed to its high level of ALA. They speculated that the prooxidant effects of ALA appear to inhibit the growth of parasites. In humans, individuals whose antioxidant defense mechanisms are compromised due to genetic abnormalities are known to be more resistant to malaria. The authors suggest that these results may have practical significance for humans. They note that animals do not have to be deficient in Vitamin E in order for omega 3 PUFAs to exert a protective effect against parasitic infection. Further, animals cured of malaria and then re-challenged appeared to be more resistant to parasites following dietary treatment with ALA. In humans, four studies have been recently published in which omega 3 PUFAs were protective against murine malaria. The authors recommend further research into the antimalarial properties of flaxseed and flaxseed oil.

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