Native to India and domesticated in Middle East, flax plant belongs to the Linaceae family and is also known as Linum Usitatissimum. The plant rows up to 120 cm in height, producing white or blue flowers that mature into bolls containing 10 seeds each. Flax is a lowering plant grown mostly for its seeds which are the source of the linseed oil, the concentrated source of the fats and nutritional components used in the medical preparations. Both seeds and oil contain nutrients, fiber, lignin, protein, and fat.
The suitable habitat for the cultivation of the flax as a fiber plant is a cool damp climate. That is why the plant grows best in all the temperate zones. Oil-bearing seeds become the reason of the plant’s cultivation in the tropical areas, too.
As mentioned, flax is grown for its seeds and fiber. Various parts of the plant are traditionally used for the fabric, dye, medicines, fishing nets and soap production. Moreover, blue flowers of the plant have been performing ornamental functions in gardens. Flax seed oil has been for long used as a drying oil in varnishing and painting.
Typical market forms of the flax seed are flour, oil and seed. As supplements, capsules are also available being one of the flax seed products variety. The seeds are usually added to cereals, salads, protein shakes or are eaten plane. Oil is mixed with the liquid drinks, or you may drink it straight.
Flax is favored in use for its nutritional constituents. High quality protein, soluble fiber, vitamins B-1, B-2, C and E are found in great amounts in the seed. The combination of the fiber and oil makes the flax seed powerful laxative. Seeds are also high in zinc, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, calcium and carotene. Lignin, a phytonutrient that is considered to be an anti-cancer agent (especially in relation to breast and colon cancer), is found in flax seed in rather high amounts, leaving behind such plants as buckwheat, millet, rye, oats and soybeans. Lignin decreases the level of estrogen in the human body, in this way decreasing the risk of the estrogen-linked cancers. Antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties are also attributed to this chemical.
Flax seed is rich in alpha linolenic acid which acts lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
Flax seed possesses quite a number of health benefits which make the plant so popular in herbal medicine. Its immunity-enhancing properties prevent the number of respiratory infections. Flax is very useful for the colon: rich fiber source and lubricate properties of the plant lower the risk of the constipation. The omega-3 fatty acids in flax seed lower bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and promote cardiovascular health in general. Moreover, these chemicals are effective in treating depression, since their balance in the brain provides nerve cell membranes with the proper functioning, which is essential for the good mental health. Flax seed is also used to treat various skin conditions. For dry skin, acne or eczema flax seed oil is used as the dietary supplement and for the promotion of the wounds and burns healing flax seed is used as the source of omega-3 fatty acids. Patients suffering from asthma may also find flax seed useful – its supplements decrease inflammation and improve lung function.
It is recommended to use 1-2 TBSP of the ground flax seed and 1/2 TBSP oil in the morning and before bed, and use 1 TBSP of oil with 1 other meal during the day.