Linseed is mostly used to produce oil that has different uses when used individually or blended with other resins, solvents and oils. The most commonly known applications of the plant are in wood finishing, putty and linoleum.

Linseed Plant

Quick Facts about Linseed or Linum usitatissimum:


  • Common name: Linseed
  • Sanskrit name: Uma, Kshuma
  • English name: Linseed
  • Scientific name: Linum usitatissimum


  • Rasa: Madhura, Tikta
  • Guna: Guru, Snigdha
  • Virya: Ushna
  • Vipaka: Katu
  • Karma: Vataghna, Achakshushya


The home of the Flax plant that yields linseed, a member of the Linaceae family, is the region from the eastern Mediterranean to India. This is a branched, bushy plant with erect, thin stems, thought to have originated from the ‘Fertile Crescent’ (i.e. semi-arid Western Asia, to the Egyptian Nile Valley and Delta in northeast Africa). It is one of the oldest plant species cultivated for its oil, bark, fibre, and flax. The plant is grown in Canada and China in the largest quantities.

Chemical constituents

Oil obtained from Linseed is a triglyceride, bearing much similarity to other fats. Its contents in terms of fatty acid components are unique- it contains a large volume of α-lenolenic acid which reacts differently with oxygen (it undergoes the phenomenon of polymerization when exposed to oxygen in air). Other components include saturated palmitic acid, stearic acid, monounsaturated oleic acid and doubly unsaturated linoleic acid, in addition to its 50% triply unsaturated α-lenolenic acid. The toxic constituents of the plant are lintaine (a glutamic acid derivative), as well as cyanogenic glycosides such as linustatin and neolinustatin from the seeds. Linamarin and lotustralin are other toxic constituents of the plant that can be obtained from its leaves, stems, flowers, and roots.

Health benefits

Linseed has been found through research to prevent or cure the following health disorders:

  • Stroke, heart disease: Since flax seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, they help in reducing the risk of heart diseases and also help keep the brain healthy as well by preventing strokes.
  • High Cholesterol: A regular intake of flax seeds and linseed oil helps reduce blood cholesterol as well as blood pressure, thus leading to a healthier life.
  • Diabetes: The extracts of linseed are effective in lowering blood sugar levels, and hence helpful in the treatment of diabetes.
  • Respiratory disorders: The tea of linseed seeds is useful in the treatment of respiratory problems such as bronchitis, cold, cough, sore throat, pneumonia, and pleurisy.
  • Bacterial diseases: Linseed oil has been found to be as effective against diseases caused by bacteria such as E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus agalactiae as cefoperazone, an antimicrobial, antibiotic drug. The oil was however more effective than the drug against Enterococcus faecalis, Micrococcus luteus and Candida albicans. Hence the diseases caused by these microbes can effectively be prevented or cured when treated with linseed oil.
  • Digestive disorders: Flax has been used since ancient times as an effective laxative especially since it is rich in fatty acids.


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  1. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia Of India, Part- 1, Volume- 1, Government Of India, Ministry Of Health And Family Welfare Department Of Ayush. pp 67 – 68.
  2. H.K. Bakru, (Bakhru, H. K. (2012). HERBS THAT Heal: Natural remedies for Good Health. (25 ed., pp. 220-221). New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks (A Division of Vision Books Pvt. Ltd.).
  3. Małigorzata Lataowa, Botanical analysis of a bundle of flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) from an early medieval site in northern Poland; a contribution to the history of flax cultivation and its field weeds, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, June 1998, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 97-107
  4. Chandrma. P. Khare, Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic, and Other Traditional Usage, Botany, pg 298, Springer, 2004.
  5. Menakshi Bhat, Smita S. Zinjarde, Shobha Y. Bhargava, Ameeta Ravi Kumar, and Bimba N. Joshi, Antidiabetic Indian Plants: A Good Source of Potent Amylase Inhibitors, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 810207, 6 pages, doi:10.1093/ecam/nen040
  6. Goutam Thakur, Analava Mitra, Kunal Pal, Dérick Rousseau, Effect of flaxseed gum on reduction of blood glucose and cholesterol in type 2 diabetic patients, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 2009, Vol. 60, No. s6 , Pages 126-136 (doi:10.1080/09637480903022735)
  7. Gaurav Kaithwas, Alok Mukerjee, P. Kumar, Dipak K. Majumdar, Linum usitatissimum (linseed/flaxseed) fixed oil: antimicrobial activity and efficacy in bovine mastitis, Inflammopharmacology, February 2011, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 45-52
  8. Amit J. Jhala and Linda M. Hall, Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.): Current Uses and Future Applications, Australian Journal of basic and Applied Sciences, 4(9): 4304-4312, 2010
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