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Flax lignans showing early promise in university clinical trials

A group of researchers in the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, including Dr. Ed Krol and Dr. Jane Alcorn, at the University of Saskatchewan are about to move into a second clinical trial to confirm the health benefits of lignans, a flax-derived supplement that helps seniors stay mentally sharp and physically healthy. 

A clinical trial for a single oral dose has already been completed, with favorable results. The next trial requires participants to take a daily oral dose of the flax supplement, but doctoral student Ahmed Almousa said first, the researchers needs people to participate in the study. 

“We need to recruit enough people to confirm what may potentially be important health effects of flax seed extract,” he said. “We hope to provide evidence that these benefits are real, and may improve the health and well-being of a number of older adults who are seeking ways to live and age well.” 

Flax lignans have been extensively studied, work that has uncovered benefits like reducing cholesterol, regulating insulin, modulating the immune system and treating inflammation which is thought to be behind a wide range of health ailments, including many of those associated with aging. 

“There is a desire for more natural products,” Almousa said. “While there are drugs available that treat inflammation, the purpose of this study is to scientifically confirm these flax-based natural health products are effective.” 

The research is being conducted in two stages-lab work and clinical trial. In the lab, the researchers are using cell culture and animal models of diseases to understand how well the lignans work and exactly how they deliver benefits.

For the clinical trial, the researchers are recruiting people over 60 years of age  and older to test the effects of the flax lignans on overall well-being and quality of life with advancing age. 

Those interested in participating in the trial can call the university at 306-966-2138 or email Pui Chi Cheng at