Botanical Name: Linum usitatissimum & perenne | Family: Linaceae
Common name(s): Flax, Linseed, Prairie Flax (perennial version)
Common flax is an annual variety that is grown as a farm crop for both fiber and seed. There is information about it in A Modern Herbal. Since I am unlikely to ever grow a crop of flax, the information I’m listing in this section is for the perennial variety, whose seeds have the same benefit, but whose fibers are coarser. You can reference A Modern Herbal for information about the annual variety.
- Perennial; herbaceous | Zones 5-9 | 1-2 feet tall | Pale blue flowers in early to mid-summer
- Well-drained soil | Full sun | reseeds readily | should be cut back after blooming to keep from getting leggy and encourage new growth
The seeds will ripen on the plant after harvesting.
PREPARATION / DOSAGE
Infusion: Pour 1 pint boiling water over 1 ounce of ground or whole seeds and let sit for 10 minutes. Drink freely. Add honey and lemon juice to improve flavor.
Soaked seeds: Soak 1 tablespoon of whole seeds in at least 5 times the amount of warm water for a few hours. Creates a jelly-like substance. Drink (with additional water) to relieve constipation, diarrhea, acid indigestion, or to soothe the chest and bronchial airways and relieve coughs and other respiratory issues.
External: Use as a poultice by putting warm soaked seeds in gauze or muslin and placing on skin irritations including insect bites, burns, boils and hemorrhoids. It can also be placed on the chest to help relieve bronchitis.
Cautions: Unripe seeds can be toxic. Seeds should be taken ground to get the nutritive benefits.
Constituents: a-linoleic acid, omega-3 oils, phytoestrogens, protein
Actions: Antioxidant, demulcent, estrogenic, laxative, nutritive
Uses: Digestive problems, respiratory issues, topical treatments, and incorporated into the diet to help with serious health issues like kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer prevention. Will also help relieve menopausal symptoms.
Combinations: Combine with lobelia and/or mustard for poultices.
- A Modern Herbal, by Mrs. M. Grieve
- Herbal Remedies, by Andrew Chevallier
- Cornell University
- photo credit: Flowering flax via photopin (license)
What a pretty little plant! Flax seeds are an important part of my diet. I add them to my health shakes along with chia and hemp seeds. I also have read about using them as an egg substitute (similar to the soaked-seed instructions listed above). It was interesting to learn of their ability to help with menopause. Kind of a remarkable little seed!