Four thousand years ago, the flaxseed plant was already cultivated in Mediterranean countries to obtain textile fibers, and 2500 years ago as a medicinal herb. Hippocrates recommended it as an emollient in the 5th century B.C.
Flaxseed Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific synonyms: Linum humile Miller, Linum humile Planch., Linum crepitans (Boenn.) Dum.
- French: Lin.
- Spanish: Lino.
- Environment: The flaxseed plant is native to the Middle East; it is cultivated in warm climate areas all over Europe and the Americas.
- Description: Herbaceous plant of the Linaceae family, growing from 40 to 80 cm high, with an upright stem and elongated, narrow leaves. Its flowers are light blue, with five petals, and its fruit is a globe-like capsule with ten brown seeds.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The linseed (flax seeds).
Healing Properties and Warning
Flaxseeds contain considerable amounts of mucilage and pectin, which give the plant emollient and laxative properties, as well as mineral salts and fats with a high biological value (essential unsaturated fatty acids). Its applications and indications are the following:
- Chronic constipation. Flax lubricates the digestive tract, making the feces softer. Moreover, it regenerates the intestinal flora, regulating the putrefaction and fermentation processes. Its effect is thus evident since feces lose their putrid odor in the case of intestinal putrefaction.
- Gastritis, duodenitis, and gastroduodenal ulcer. It presents an anti-inflammatory and emollient action, which promotes the regeneration of the harmed digestive mucosa. Flaxseeds should be taken in a decoction as a complement of any specific treatment for those processes.
- Inflammation of the respiratory and urinary ways: especially bronchitis and cystitis, due to its emollient and soothing effect on the mucosa.
Flaxseed plant seeds (linseed) can also be used as food. They are especially recommended for diabetes due to their low sugar content and high content in proteins and fats. Flaxseed must be consumed by those people wanting to gain weight or those suffering from malnutrition.
Poultices of flaxseed flour are applied whenever constant heat is required: colds and bronchitis, menstrual pain, chronic aches of the abdomen (whether kidney or gall bladder aches), intestinal spasms, insect bites, abscesses, and furuncles. They have resolvent, antispasmodic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties, besides retaining heat for a long time. Flaxseed oil is a skin-soothing product for eczema, dry skin, mild burns, and dermatosis.
WARNING! The oil in the flaxseed plant flour becomes rancid quite quickly, then produces skin irritation. Therefore, recently prepared flour is better for preparing the poultices.
Flaxseed is much more mucilaginous than slippery elm and is used for various conditions. It is healthier than olive oil for the purposes for which it is utilized. Flaxseed is used for all intestinal inflammations, chest and lung problems, pleurisy, stomach ulcers, hemorrhoids, flatulence, enteritis, diarrhea, coughs, constipation, catarrh, bronchitis, and asthma.
Eating flaxseeds intact is an excellent remedy for chronic constipation. Take one to two tablespoons of the whole seeds and swallow with lots of water. Right after, eat stewed prunes. The seeds will swell in the intestines, stimulating elimination by expanding the volume of fecal matter.
To get rid of gallstones, take 1 ½ to two tablespoons of flaxseed oil and go to bed on your left side for half an hour. The gallstones should pass into the intestines and be eliminated from there. Externally, flaxseed is a fantastic poultice for sores, tumors, inflammations, and boils. Use it with slippery elm for burns, oozing sores, and bumps.
CAUTION: Avoid flaxseed if you suffer from diverticulitis.
Other Flaxseed Plant Species
All over the Mediterranean coastline of the Iberian Peninsula and in the Canary Islands grows a species called wild flax, with comparable properties to cultivated flax.
Cathartic flax grows in Mediterranean countries. Its laxative effect is more intense. In North America, prairie flax or Rocky Mountain flax grows another variety of flax.
How to use Flaxseed
- Decoction of 30 g of seeds per liter of water, boiling for five minutes. Drink two or three cups daily, sweetened with honey if desired.
- Cold extract. Steep for 12 hours a spoonful of seeds per glass of water. Drink two or three glasses of the liquid every day.
- Seeds. Whole seeds can be taken, chewed (a spoonful every 12 hours).
- Poultices. Ground flaxseed flour is added to boiling water until forming a thick paste. From 30 to 40 g of flaxseed flour is usually required per liter of water. When applying the poultice, it is advisable to protect the skin with a cold cloth to avoid burns.
- Lotions with flaxseed oil. Apply directly to the affected area.
Infusion: Steep for five to fifteen minutes and take one cup daily. Tincture: Take fifteen to forty drops three times a day or as needed. Fluid Extract: Take fifteen to thirty drops three times a day or as required. Powder: Take ten to twenty #0 capsules (60 to 120 grains) once daily.
- George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 508, 509. Print.
- Vance Ferrell Harold M. Cherne, M.D. The Natural Remedies Encyclopedia [Book]. – Altamont, TN: Harvestime Books, 2010. – Vol. Seventh Edition: 7: pp. 158, 159.