“Flaxseed oil is now used by millions of Americans for its spectacular health benefits, thanks to a young man who overcame many obstacles to bring it here.”
Less than 20 years go, flaxseed was known as “linseed oil.” The federal Food and Drug Administration reasoned humans couldn’t use it because a distant cousin of the same name was sold as a paint additive.
This is the true story of how that changed in the 1980s…
Mike Minarsich, founder in 1986 of BioNatures, read a book about Dr. Johanna Budwig and her amazing work with fats, oils and proteins. Eager to know more, Mike unsuccessfully searched for the product she described—raw, cold-pressed linseed (now flaxseed) oil—at health-food stores and mail-order companies. He contacted William Fischer, publisher of Dr. Budwig’s story, and discovered the German-born publisher had used “edible” linseed oil since he was a child. Furthermore, he was still getting it in tin cans from Germany, a very expensive process. Eventually, Mike found a Canadian company that produced “linseed” oil according to the standards of Dr. Budwig. And so BioNatures was born; it became the first company in America to import and sell linseed oil for human consumption.
Demand soared, in large part because of Fischer’s landmark book. But soon the FDA stopped BioNatures’ shipments at the Canadian border, using the logic that linseed oil is a drying agent for paint and can’t be sold as food. BioNatures argued that THIS linseed oil was cold pressed in a pharmaceutical facility for human consumption and wasn’t the same linseed oil sold in hardware stores. The FDA still said no. It appeared the little company was going under as quickly as it surfaced. But the boys at BioNatures came up with two ideas: Find someone in the U.S. to make the product, or change the name from linseed oil to – you guessed it – flaxseed oil. After all, they reasoned, it was derived from the flax plant.
Confusion for the government and consumers was eliminated. The rest is history. Today if you put “flax oil” into an internet search engine, you will get around 400,000 results. It is considered a staple item for millions of people’s daily regimen. But the original is still the best. It is BioNatures’ brand of flaxseed oil.