Dual effectiveness of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea: Possible mechanism

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: This study was planned to assess pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Flaxseed in constipation and diarrhea.MATERIALS AND Methods: The oil and mucilage of Flaxseeds were studied for their laxative, and antidiarrheal activities in mice. The mechanisms of laxative and antidiarrheal activities were further studied using the isolated tissue preparations (rabbit jejunum and guinea-pig ileum) immersed in Tyrode׳s solution maintained at 37°C and aerated with carbogen gas. Isotonic responses were measured on spontaneously contracting isolated jejunum and guinea-pig ileum preparations.Results: Oral administration of Flaxseed oil (30 and 70mg/kg, orally) and mucilage (1 and 2.5g/kg, orally) caused dose-dependent increase in wet feces in mice. The spasmogenic effect of Flaxseed oil was partially blocked by pyrilamine (p<0.05) and atropine (p<0.01) in isolated rabbit jejunum whereas atropine completely blocked the effect of Flaxseed mucilage on isolated guinea-pig ileum. When studied for its antidiarrheal effect, Flaxseed oil reduced the castor oil-induced diarrheal score by 49.35% and 84.41% and intestinal secretions by 19% and 33.62% at the oral doses of 100 and 300mg/kg respectively. In isolated rabbit jejunum preparations, Flaxseed oil produced a dose-dependent inhibition of both spontaneous and low K(+) (25mM) -induced contractions in rabbit jejunum. The inhibitory effect against low K(+) was most sensitive to tetra-ethylammonium chloride, a non-specific K(+) channel blocker, followed by glibenclamide, a partial ATP-dependent K(+) channels blocker and 4-Aminopyridine, a voltage gated K(+)-channel blocker.CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that Flaxseed oil and mucilage exhibit laxative activity, mediated primarily through cholinergic pathway with weak histaminergic effect component evident in Flaxseed oil, which also showed antidiarrheal activity, mediated possibly through K(+) channels activation. Thus this study rationalizes the medicinal use of Flaxseed in both the constipation and diarrhea with sound mechanistic basis.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Ethnopharmacology