Herbal Remedies: Therapeutic Properties of Flaxseed

Flaxseed provides all eight essential amino acids and a wealth of nutrients, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes, protein, vitamins and minerals. Flaxseed is said to help lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, improve circulation and immune function and also treat inflammatory disorders.

Plant Description:

As the source of linen fiber, Flax has been cultivated since at least 5000 B.C., and its importance continues today for its fiber and as a source of oil. Flax is a hardy annual that grows from one to four feet with narrow, hairy leaves and red, white, or blue flowers that are followed by spherical capsules (bols), which contain seeds that are high in oils with linoleic acid.


Its history reaches back lo the earliest times as a food (the seeds when roasted) and in the making of fine linen cloth. The Flax plant was grown in Palestine before the arrival of the Israelites.

The Bible tells us that Rahab in Jericho hid two spies under stems of Flax she had been drying, and Solomon, praised his wife who separated the fibers of the Flax for fine linen.

The Egyptians made fine linen clothing and used it for wrapping mummies in the embalming process. The medicinal properties of Flaxseeds were known to the Greeks, as Hippocrates recommended them for inflammations of the mucous membranes and digestive disorders, and in eighth-century France, Charlemagne passed laws requiring the seeds lo be consumed to keep his subjects healthy. In North America, the use of Flax dates back lo 1617, when L. Hebert, the first farmer in Canada, brought it to New France, and today, the crop grows widely on the prairies of Canada for its oil-rich seeds.

The seed oil (linseed) is not only an important commercial ingredient in the manufacture of paint and varnish, but Flaxseed contains a wealth of nutritional benefits. The stems are used to make a high quality paper and linen cloth. The majority of fat in Flaxseed (more than 70 percent) includes polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely alpha-linoleic acid (parent of Omega-3), and linoleic acid (parent of Omega-6) the “good fats.” They are essential in the human diet, required for proper infant growth and development and for maintaining the structure of cell membranes and permeability of the skin.

The body cannot manufacture them; their presence depends totally on dietary consumption. Flaxseed contains the linoleic and linolenic acids needed for production of hormone-like prostaglandins, which are vital for many bodily functions. Flaxseeds are not only rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, but they are also a wealth of nutrients, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, vanadium, zinc, protein, mucilage, digestive enzymes, saponin, beta carotene, B-vitamins and vitamin E.

Medical Uses:

In reducing the risk factors of coronary heart disease, recent research has shown that Flaxseed’s high Omega-3 fatty acid and its soluble fiber content have helped to reduce serum triglycerides and blood pressure. It also helps to reduce the hardening effects of cholesterol on cell membranes. Most of the soluble fiber in Flax is mucilage gum, which is a thick, sticky substance that blocks cholesterol absorption and also helps balance blood-glucose levels, thereby making it useful for reducing high blood sugar.

With regard to strokes and arteriosclerosis, the Omega-3 fatty acids in Flaxseed also appear to protect against stroke by regulating blood clotting and platelet aggregation.

Flaxseed is high in fiber. As an important source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, it has been long used to treat constipation and promote regularity. The insoluble fiber swells in (he bowel to produce a gentle, bulking laxative, and the high oil content lubricates the intestines. A high-fiber diet including Flaxseed has been linked to a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including diverticulosis, certain malignant diseases, i.e., colon (the quicker waste is eliminated, the less time the colon is exposed to toxins and bacteria).

For improved immune function, Flaxseed’s alpha-linoleic acid and lignins have demonstrated a beneficial impact by affecting immune cells and immune-response mediators, such as eicosanoids and cytokines. Through these mechanisms, Flaxseed may play an important role in the clinical management of autoimmune diseases and certain hormone-dependent malignancies (breast, endometrial and prostate).

Flaxseeds have been used as a relaxing expectorant, easing sore throats and hacking coughs. Folk healers have long used the seeds to soothe any kind of lung or throat disturbance. The mucilage in Flaxseed has been effective for inflammations of the mucous membranes, which is soothing for many conditions including pharyngitis and gastritis.

Several studies have shown (hat Flaxseed’s anli-inflammatory and soothing properties may reduce the pain, inflammation and swelling of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Flaxseed is an old remedy when used topically as a poultice for inflammations and ulcers and as a drawing poultice for boils and abscesses.


Take two (2) to three (3) capsules, two (2) times each day with water at mealtimes.



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