Flax (Linseed)

Scientific name: Linum usitatissimum

Common names: Common Flax, Winterlien, Lint Bells

Ayurvedic names: Atasi, uma, picchila, devi, medagandha

Chinese names: ya ma, hu ma

Bangladesh names: Tisi

Arabic names:    الكتان (al kattaan)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Linaceae

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Seed

Collection: Summers

Annual/Perennial: Annual

Height: Up to 8-22 inch

Actions: Demulcent, anti-tussive, purgative, laxative, maturating, muilaginous, emolient, vulnerary

Known Constituents: upto 40& oil including linolenic, lionleic and oleic acids, mucilage, protein, glycosides including linamarin

Constituents Explained:


A glabrous? (picture?) stem with a few branches that have leaves that are alternate, sessile, and lancelate to oblong leaves (pictures).  Each branch normally has 1-2 flowers that are blue or violet with 5 petals. The fruit comes in a 10 seeded capsule. The seeds are shiny ,ooily flat and brown.

Traditional Use:

Cultivated since the times of the ancient Egyptians.  L???ook at history The ancient Egyptians would cultivate it as a food crop on the banks of the Nile.  The nile would flood…

The seeds are considered mineral rich.  When cold pressed the oil is often used for cooking.  When hot pressed it is someimtes used for industrial uses.

Flax should be considered a herbalists first choice for those wanting the much publicized Omega 3 fatty acids.  Alpha linoleic acid or ALA for short gets converted into Omega 3 fatty acids in the human body.

The ability of the body to turn it into good fats has made it a powerful cholesterol combative.

High in protein, it has also been used to relieve menopausal symptoms.

Commonly used on cereals.  The seed absorbs large amounts of liquid, so its useful to drink large quantities of water with it.  Sometimes used as a bulking agent for the stool, linseed has been used in cases of acid reflux and ulcer.

Its been used for respiratory complains internally, and has been turned into a poultice and put externally on the chest to relieve symptoms of chest infection, as well as boils and skin conditions.  Its also used internally to relive chest infections.

The oil has somEimtes been used with the intent of removing heavy metalsn from the body and to reduce thrombosis, or as a general nutritive.  It’s also been used for respiratroy conditions, digetive, urinary and gall stones.

Its been used for the kidneys.

Making linen and paper

Externally it can be made into a poultice because of its thickness.  The oil can be used externally for wounds and bruises.1

The seeds must be ripened when used.  Immature seed pods have been considered poisonous.

Clinical Studies:

Botanical omega-3 fatty acid (alphalinolenic acid/ALA) has been shown to alleviate the prothrombotic and proinflammatory profile of metabolic syndrome, however clinical protocols are still scarce. Aiming to focus an obese population, a pilot study was designed.

Morbidly obese candidates for bariatric surgery, 82.8% females, BMI 44.9 ± 5.2 kg/m², with C-reactive protein/CRP > 5 mg/L were recruited. Twenty were randomized and after exclusions, 16 were available for analysis.

Flaxseed powder (60 g/day, 10 g ALA) and isocaloric roasted cassava powder (60 g/day, fat-free) were administered in a double-blind routine for 12 weeks.

During flaxseed consumption neutrophil count decreased and fibrinogen, complement C4, prothrombin time and carotid diameter remained stable, whereas placebo (cassava powder) was associated with further elevation of those measurements.

Inflammatory and coagulatory markers tended to exhibit a better outlook in the flaxseed group. Also large-artery diameter stabilized whereas further increase was noticed in controls. These findings raise the hypothesis of a less deleterious cardiovascular course in seriously obese subjects receiving a flaxseed supplement.

Ingestion of selected nutrients modulates dermal properties. In the present study, two groups of women ingested flaxseed or borage oil for 12 weeks. The control group received a placebo containing medium-chain fatty acids. The control group received a placebo containing medium-chain fatty acids. 

Dose was 2.2 g total fatty acids/d with alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid as major constituents in the flaxseed oil group; in the borage oil group linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid were predominant. 

In the flaxseed oil group, the contribution of alpha-linolenic acid to total fatty acids in plasma was significantly increased on weeks 6 and 12, whereas there was an increase in gamma-linolenic acid in the borage oil group.

Skin irritation was performed by nicotinate treatment, and changes in skin reddening and blood flow were monitored. Compared to week 0, skin reddening was diminished in both groups; blood flow was also lowered.

Skin hydration was significantly increased after 12 weeks of treatment compared to week 0, with flaxseed or borage oil. Transepidermal water loss was decreased in both oil groups by about 10 % after 6 weeks of supplementation. 

A further decrease was determined after 12 weeks in the flaxseed oil group. Surface evaluation of living skin revealed that roughness and scaling of the skin were significantly decreased with flaxseed and borage oil comparing week 0 and week.


Faintuch J, Bortolotto LA, Marques PC, Faintuch JJ, Franca JI, Cecconello I. “Systemic Inflammation And Carotid Diameter In Obese Patients: Pilot Comparative Study With Flaxseed Powder And Cassava Powder.” 2011 January-February http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21519749

De Spirt S, Stahl W, Tronnier H, Bejot M, Maurette JM, Heinrich U. “Intervention With Flaxseed And Borage Oil Supplements Modulate Skin Condition In Women.” 2009 February http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18761778