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.
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.
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.
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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- Img Src: en.wikipedia.org