Linseed is a bushy annual plant, with erect, slender stems that grows up to 30 cm in height. It has alternate, stalkless leaves and blue flowers in loose clusters. The fruits are roundish and 10 celled. Each cell contains one seed which is oval, smooth, shining and usually brown colored. Linseed is one of the first crops to be cultivated for its oil bark fiber and flax.
Linseed contain moisture 6.5 percent, protein 20.3 percent, fat 37.1 percent, minerals 2.4 percent, fiber 4.8 percent and carbohydrates 28.9 percent per 100 grams of edible portion. Its mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorus, iron, carotene, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Its calorific value is 530. Linseed contains substantial amount of oil. This oil is a good source of linoleic acid. It contains linoleic and linolenic acids.
Botanical Name: Linum usitatissimum
Indian Name: Alsi
Below are some of the medicinal properties of linseed:
- The seeds are useful in the treatment of gonorrhea, irritations of the genitor urinary organs, nephritis and cystitis, provided taken in the form of tea repetitively.
- The seeds are valuable in the treatment of respiratory diseases besides being a useful remedy for colds, coughs, sore chest, throat and pulmonary complaints. Linseed tea or infusion can be given repeatedly in one glass doses. For cough and colds, the tea is given with honey. An infusion made by soaking 30 grams of the powdered seeds overnight in a glass of water can be given with lime juice in tuberculosis with beneficial results.
- A hot poultice of the seeds is an effective home remedy for skin diseases like boils, abscesses and carbuncles. An equal part of linseed oil and lime water mixed together is an effective remedy for burns, scalds and skin diseases like eczema and herpes. Its oil is also used for removing blemishes from the face.
- One or two teaspoons of seeds with water can treat constipation.
- A loose poultice of the seeds can be applied with excellent results in chest troubles and diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, broncho-pneumonia and pleurisy. The counter irritant effect of the poultice can be enhanced by dusting mustard powder over it.
Linseed emulsion or tea can be made by heating a teaspoon of the powdered seeds in about 360 ml of water. The liquid is reduced to half its quantity by boiling and can be sweetened with sugar candy or sugar. Even children can be given this tea to counteract wheezing or asthma.
The seeds are roasted over slow fire, powdered and stored for use when needed.