technician taking dental x-rayDental x-rays aren’t exactly fun, but sometimes, they’re necessary.

They remain the best tool we have for seeing conditions within the tooth, not to mention the supporting bone. More advanced dental imaging – such as CBCT/3D cone beam scanning – is also becoming much more common for diagnosing certain dental conditions (though, contrary to what some say, CBCT is not essential for identifying cavitations; other methods are available).

While digital imaging exposes you to far less radiation than conventional film, there’s still some exposure. It’s why we only take x-rays when they’re absolutely necessary to your dental care; we never take them “routinely.”

But short of avoiding x-rays altogether, is there anything you can do to offset the negative effects of radiation?

One study we recently ran across suggests one intriguing possibility: flaxseed.

The study, published in Cancer Biology & Therapy, involved two groups of lab mice exposed to x-ray radiation. Both groups ate the same diet, but one was also given a supplement of 10% flaxseed.

After four months, just 40% of the control group had survived compared with up to 88% of those given flaxseed. As GreenMedInfo reported,

The researchers point out that flaxseed boasts many other qualities that make it particularly attractive as a protection against radiation damage and a mitigator of exposure. “Flaxseed is safe, it’s very cheap, it’s readily available, there’s nothing you have to synthesize,” [lead author] Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou noted. “It can be given orally so it has a very convenient administration route. It can be packaged and manufactured in large quantities. Best of all, you can store it for very long periods of time,” making it especially interesting to government officials looking to stockpile radioprotective substances in case of accidental or terrorist-caused radiological disasters.

Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou has built upon these findings through additional research, such as this 2016 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

bowl of flaxseedHere, the research team exposed isolated rodent lung cells to radiation. Some were protected with the main lignan found in flaxseed – a protective compound called secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, or SDG for short. “SDG,” note the study’s authors, “is a free radical scavenger, shown in cell free systems to protect DNA from radiation-induced damage.”

The SDG, they found, indeed protected the cells from radiation-induced death. It also reduced DNA damage and enhanced the antioxidant capacity of the cells.

Of course, there are other options for counteracting radiation exposure, as well, such as the Pekana remedies Radinex and Toxex, as well as the Sanum remedy Okoubasan, all of which we use in our office.

Flaxseed could be one more option, offering other health benefits, as well. As ever, though, you can get too much of a good thing. While flaxseed itself is generally safe, eating too much can have hormonal implications, laxative effects, and other unpleasant impacts. Moderation remains key.

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