External Flaxseed Oil Treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

March 26, 2015 Updated: March 26, 2015

Carpal tunnel syndrome is considered mysterious to conventional medicine. Now we find proof that nature helps solve the riddle of the carpal tunnel by virtue of flaxseed oil – also referred to as linseed oil. 

Years ago as a little league baseball player I would rub linseed oil onto my baseball glove because it made the glove softer and more pliable. This trick allowed me to catch the ball better. It also lengthened the life of the glove.

Little did I or anyone else know the external application of linseed oil (Latin name Linum usitatissimum) – also referred to in nutrition as flaxseed oil – can also treat carpal tunnel syndrome.

But can treating carpal tunnel syndrome really be compared to rubbing oil onto a baseball glove?

What Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Anyway?

According to conventional theory, carpal tunnel is caused by the entrapment and subsequent pressure on to the median nerve along with accompanying tendons that wind through the carpal tunnel. Some have therefore suspected repetitive motion as a potential cause. 

The carpal tunnel is a small hallow in the region of the wrist where a number of small bones also coexist.

While conventional theory assumes a cause related strictly to alignment and physical function, it doesn’t explain why the condition is related to hypothyroidism, diabetes, obesity and rheumatism.

The intermittent and sometimes chronic tingling, pain and numbness of the hands resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome has also been associated with depression and even pregnancy.

While the purpose of this article is not to pursue all the potential causes, I might include that one of the most used temporary treatments to the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome is corticosteroids.

And as most medical professionals know, corticosteroid injections work by halting the inflammatory processes that occur among the various tissues.

And since corticosteroid injections are effective in the temporary relief of the syndrome, we can safely conclude that inflammation plays a large part in the condition.

And it so happens that greater levels of inflammation are also seen in hypothyroidism, diabetes, rheumatism and depression.

Flaxseed Oil Relieves Pain and Increases Motion for Carpal Tunnel

This element ties precisely into the use of flaxseed oil because flax has been shown to significantly reduce inflammation.

This fact was illustrated in a study published in late 2014 in the DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. This double-blind and randomized clinical study was conducted with 100 patients, of which 155 hands with carpal tunnel syndrome were tested.

In other words, both wrists are not always involved in the condition – for a reason not well understood.

At any rate, all 100 patients had mild to moderate conditions, and they were between 18 and 65 years old. The patients were randomized and divided into two groups. One group was treated with flaxseed oil and the other group was treated with a placebo oil.

Both groups were given a wrist splint to use at night and were told to apply the flaxseed oil onto the wrist and upper hands daily for four weeks.

Before and after the treatment, the patients were given a battery of tests and functional assessments, which included the Boston Carpal Tunnel Questionnaire and its functional status assessment. These rate the patient’s levels of pain, numbness, tingling and other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as mobility and function.