Other Names of Linseed:

  • Linum Usitatissiumum
  • Alsi
  • Chih-ma
  • Common Flax
  • Flax
  • Flax Seed
  • Flax Weed
  • Lint Bells
  • Toad Flax
  • Uma
  • Winterlien

Useful Parts of the Plant: Seeds and seed oil

The Flax plant is a small herbaceous plant with blue flowers and an erect stem. The main purpose of the plant was fodder for livestock; however with time the other uses of linseed soon became evident. Due to the high presence of oil in the seeds, linseed oil was soon extracted and used for a variety of purposes ranging from industrial to medicinal.Linseed has been used as a source of fiber to produce fabric since ancient times. Its healing powers have also been well documented and its therapeutic use has continued down the ages.

Nutritional Information and Properties

Linseed contains minerals such as zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, chlorine, and sulphur along with traces of silicon, copper, iodine, chromium, nickel, and magnesium. Also rich in protein fiber and mucilage, linseed is a popular addition to baked dishes such as cakes and breads. The presence of oleic acid, stearic acid, linoleic and alpha linoleic acids add to its nutritional value and health benefits. The essential fatty acids in linseed are the main reason for its healing properties. The body requires essential fatty acids to function properly and protecting cells from damage. The omega-3 fatty acids found in linseed also help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Whole Linseeds and not Linseed oil contain substances called lignans. Lignans help remedy problems related to an imbalance in the hormones. Lignans also help fight off bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

Linseed and linseed oil benefits include:

  • Linseed oil reduces recovery time of tired and sore muscles
  • It can help treat sprains and other injuries and also helps to heal bruises
  • Regular consumption of linseed oil aids weight loss by increasing the body's metabolic rate
  • Adding linseed to your daily diet can improve the absorption of calcium and the functioning of insulin
  • Prevents liver damage and disease
  • After a year of use, linseed oil can increase hair growth and stop Alopecia Areata
  • Linseed is good for treating skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or dry, flaky skin
  • Reduces high blood pressure
  • Can treat depression
  • Relieves symptoms of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
  • Reduces inflammation associated with lupus, gout, and arthritis
  • Controls constipation and other digestive disorders due to its high fiber content
  • Improves hair quality
  • Prevents certain types of cancers
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Improves sperm quality and can be used to treat male infertility

Other Uses of Linseed

  • The remains after the linseed oil extraction process is used as a protein supplement for animals especially horses. It is also very easy to digest and palatable.
  • Uses of linseed oil include several industrial and commercial applications. Artists and painters often use linseed oil mixed with turpentine when working with oil paints.
  • Linseed oil is used as a polish for wood and wooden furniture as it scratches less than regular varnish.
  • Sports equipment such as cricket and hockey bats are still tempered with linseed oil.
  • Commercially, linseed is used as an ingredient in cosmetics, paper production, printing inks, and making oil cloth.

Precautions/Side Effects/Warnings

  • The recommended dosage of linseed is about 5 to 10 grams for adults and children. Soaking them in water prior to consumption makes them easier to digest. The effects become evident within 24 hours of having them. For children below 12 years, half the dosage per day. Linseed in any form should be given only under strict medical supervision to children below 6 years of age.
  • Due to their laxative effect, too much linseed (in baked goods or when eaten plain) can cause stomach upsets.
  • Industrial varieties of linseed oil are not safe for consumption and may contain poisonous additives.
  • There is no conclusive evidence about the side effects on linseed on pregnant or lactating women. It is however better to be safe and use linseed or linseed oil in small amounts only if pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Women suffering from hormone related conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, as well as cancer and men suffering from prostate cancer should stay away from the consumption of linseed products so long as they get a confirmation from their doctor.
  • Linseed is also known to cause blockages in the esophagus and parts of the intestinal tract. Therefore those with such conditions should keep away from its consumption.
  • Other side effects of linseed include flatulence, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
  • If you are on anti-coagulant or anti-platelet medication, linseed oil may increase the effects of these drugs.
  • With reference to any other medication, it is better to keep a gap of about two hours between your last consumption of Linseed.
  • Linseed should also not be taken along with herbs such as Garlic, Devil's Claw, Ginkgo, Saw Palmetto Horse Chestnut, Ginseng or Ginger
  • Linseed and linseed oil also has a tendency to go rancid very fast so care has to be taken when storing.