Botanical family: Linaceae
Parts used: Seed
Main active constituents: Fixed oil, proteins, polysaccharides, sterols
Actions: Laxative, raises omega 3 levels, balances hormones via phytoestrogenic action
Good for: Constipation, lowering LDL cholesterol,stomach disorders
Available forms: Seed, meal, flour, oil.
Flaxseed consists of the dried, ripe seed of Linum usitatissimum. The seeds contain fibre and fatty oils. Flaxseed oil contains triglycerides of linolenic, linoleic, oleic, palmitic and myristic acids. Flaxseed binds with water and swells to form a gel in the intestine, softening the faeces and increasing the volume of the bowel content.
History of Flaxseed
Flaxseed is one of the oldest cultivated plants worldwide. Flaxseed and cloth woven from flax has been found in Egyptian tombs. The Bible mentions in Exodus 28, that the Jewish high priest wore garments made from flax. Its present-day therapeutic uses can be traced back to ancient Roman medicine and probably back even further to ancient Greek and Egyptian medicines.
Cliny the Elder cites 30 remedies using flaxseed, including oral ingestion as a mild laxative and topical applications of poultice for local inflammation. It is still officially recommended in the Chinese pharmacopoeia for constipation and dry itching skin. The approved modern therapeutic applications of flaxseed are supportable based on the multi-thousand year history of clinical use in well established systems of traditional medicine.
Current uses of Flaxseed
Flaxseed is commonly used for chronic constipation, for colon damaged by abuse of laxatives, irritable colon, diverticulitis and as mucilage for gastritis. Whole or freshly crushed seed is used generally as a laxative. Its mucilage content justifies its use, like psyllium seed as an adjunctive therapy for pains related to spasmodic colitis.
SOURCE OF OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Because of the relatively high content of alpha-linolenic acid in the seeds and the oil extracted from it, is a popular source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, especially amongst vegetarians or those who do not like fish.
How to take FlaxseedBruised or whole seed-one tablespoon (10g) of seed with 150ml of water 2-3 times daily.
Mucilage-soak 2-3 tablespoons of milled flaxseed in 200-300ml water and strain after 30 minutes.
Omega 3 essential fatty acid supplementation 20g milled seed, or 20ml flaxseed oil 2-3 times a day.
Flaxseed can be taken with other supplements.
Flaxseed can be taken continuously.
WatchpointsThere is no evidence that flaxseed interacts with prescribed drugs if taken at the correct dosage.
Flaxseed is found in the Alive! range of multivitamins and minerals.