What To Do if Lignans Aren't Working

If you are taking lignans and melatonin as a hormone balancer or are giving the combination to your dog, cat or other pet for Cushing’s syndrome or another hormone-related condition and are not seeing the results you expect, there are several things you can try: 

  1. Give it Time!  Impatience is probably the most common cause for not seeing expected results.  While some see results within a couple of weeks, for others it can take up to two or even as many as four months before seeing improvement.  The signs of Cushing’s syndrome result from long-term exposure to high cortisol and other hormones, and they aren’t likely to be reversed overnight, even if hormone levels are brought back to normal.  (Your doctor or veterinarian may test cortisol levels before beginning supplementation and again several weeks into the treatment (at the same time of day) to confirm whether the supplementation is working and help determine dosing.)  So, the problem may just be that you haven’t given it enough time to see improvement.  But if enough time has passed and you still see know results, try some of the following tips. 
  2. Probiotics and Antibiotics.  Lignans only become usable to your body (bioavailable) if they have been broken down (metabolized) into different chemical compounds knows as “enterolignans”.  This requires the help of the good bacteria that inhabits your or your pet’s colon.  If you or your pet has been taking antibiotics, those bacteria are probably not there, and, thus, the lignans will not become useful to your body.  Even if you haven’t been taking antibiotics, you may not have enough bacteria or enough of the right type of bacteria in your gut.  In either case, you can re-establish these bacteria by taking probiotic supplements or by eating or feeding foods high in probiotics, such as yogurt.  Here’s a list of foods that are loaded with probiotic bacteria. 
  3. Dosage.   Some people and pets require a higher dosage than others.  Based on the available research and decades of clinical experience, we recommend starting with a dosage of 1 mg of lignans for each pound of body weight per day.  This may be increased to up to 2 mg of lignans per pound of body weight (or more if your veterinarian or doctor recommends it).  It is important to note that the dosage is based on lignan content and not whatever raw material you are using.  Thus, 1 mg of flax or of an HMR or SDG extract is not the same as 1 mg of lignans.  All of our lignans are labeled based on lignan content, and we have an independent lab test all of our flax and SDG lignans to verify the manufacturer’s own testing.  Melatonin dosage should be approximately one-tenth of that twice daily, or 1 mg of melatonin for each 10 pounds of body weight, given twice per day. 
  4. Different Lignans.  Some people and pets respond differently to different types of lignans, so switching among all-flax, flax-SDG combination, HMR and sesame lignans can find the one that is just right for you or your pet. 
  5. Timing of Lignans.  In dogs, cortisol levels peak at around 8:00 am (actually it probably occurs before 8:00 am, but due to limitations of the cited study, we can’t know that for sure) and again at around 6:00 pm, and lignans can take up to 8 hours to make the trip from the dog’s mouth to the dog’s colon depending on the size, age and breed of the dog (with smaller and younger dogs’ digestion typically happening more quickly and with larger and older dogs’ digestion typically taking longer).  We note that there are studies suggesting much shorter and others suggesting much longer digestion times. See here, for example.  But whatever the digestion time for your dog, changing the timing of their dosing may better align with your dog’s own cortisol circadian rhythms.  So, timing the ingestion of lignans so that they are effective shortly before 8:00 am or 6:00 pm may help.  Thus, for example, for a large dog, you might try administering lignans as close to your bedtime as possible or around 11:00 am to noon.  For a smaller dog, you could provide the dosage when you first wake up if you are an early riser or after lunchtime.  Even if you don’t know your dog’s digestion time (you may have a sense of this from how long after feeding it takes for your pet to poop), just changing the timing of the dose may help.