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Facts on Flax

1.  Flax Plant
2.  Linseed (Flaxseed)
3.  Flax History
4.  Alleged Health Benefits of Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil
5.  Examples of Folk and Traditional Medicinal Uses
6.  Linseed as a Source of Vitamin F (Essential Fatty Acids=EFA)
Flax Plant

Flax, Linseed  (French: Lin; German: Flachs; Spanish: Lino; Italian: Lino; Portuguese: Linho)
Flax, common name for a family of plants, and for plants of a genus within that family. One species (Linum usitatissimum) is grown extensively for its fiber and seed. Other species are  cultivated as ornamental plants or for pharmaceuticals. Flax plants range in height from 30 to 100 cm (12 to 40 in) and have narrow, alternate, lance like leaves. The flowers of most cultivated varieties range in color from deep to pale shades of blue. Some garden varieties have white, violet, pink, or red blossoms.
Flax plant (linum usitatissimum)
a: roots; b: stem (containing fibers); c: leaves entire, narrow; d: flowers blue, somewhat white, pink or violet, arranged in a biparous cyme; e: fruit (boll capsule) containing less than 10 seeds.

It is cultivated either as a textile plant, for the fibers contained in the stem, or for its oleo-protinaceous seeds.
Winter flax varieties, with their procumbent growth at the beginning of their development, are differentiated from spring flax varieties, that grow erect and are sensitive to cold.
Textile flax has been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages, but has declined since the appearance of cotton.
Planting occurs in spring; harvesting occurs by uprooting when the capsules are yellow green. Retting permits decomposition of cements which bind the fibers.

Linseed (Flaxseed)

Flax seeds produce an oil used for industrial purposes and are also used as animal feed. Sown in March, the oil yielding flax is harvested when the seeds are mature, drying may be necessary. 
Flax for seed is produced and harvested in about the same manner as wheat and other small grains. Yields and quality are best in relatively cool climates. Flax seed yields from 30 to 40 percent linseed oil by weight. The oil is used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes, linoleum, oilcloth, printing inks, QLIFE® cosmetics, and other products. In recent years the fiber from seed flax has been used in the manufacture of high-grade and special purpose papers.  Flax seed is naturally mucilaginous.

Flax seed: 100 grams contains...
Linseed oil: 35 grams

Alpha-Linolenic Acid (omega-3) 20.7 grams
Linoleic Acid (omega-6) 4.9 grams
Oleic Acid 6.7 grams
Stearic Acid 1.4 grams
Palmitoleic Acid 1.8 grams
Protein:    26 grams
Fiber:       14 grams
Mucilage: 12 grams
Water:       9 grams
Minerals:   4 grams
Potassium  .74 grams
Phosphorus .70 grams
Magnesium  .38 grams
Calcium    .21 gram
Sulfur    .21 gram
Sodium     .046 gram
Chlorine   .043 gram
Iron       .0077 gram
Zinc       .0057 gram
Traces of Manganese, Silicon, Copper, Fluorine, Nickel, Cobalt, Iodine, Molybdenum, Chromium
Flax History

Flax,  L. usitatissimum, has been grown since the beginnings of civilization, and people all over the world have celebrated its usefulness throughout the ages. 

About 3,000 B.C.
                               Flax is cultivated in Babylon.
                               Burial chambers depict flax cultivation and clothing from flax fibers.
About 650 B.C.
                               Hippocrates writes about using flax for the relief of abdominal pains. 
                               In the same era, Theophrastus recommends the use of flax mucilage as a 
                               cough remedy. 
About 1st Century A.D.
                               Tacitus praises the virtues of flax.
About 8th Century A.D.
                               Charlemagne considered flax so important for the health of his subjects that he
                               passed laws and regulations requiring its consumption.
About 15th Century A.D.
                               Hildegard von Bigen used flax meal in hot compresses for the treatment of both
                               external and internal ailments
1999 A.D. 
                               QLIFE® Health and Beauty Products introduce 
                                linseed (flaxseed) extract-based 
                                cosmetic products to the Internet audience 
Health Benefits of Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil

Linseed, is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids (50-60% Omega-3s). It contains almost twice as much of the Omega-3s as fish oil. 
1. Heart Disease 
Omega-3s lower high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels by as much as 25% and 65% respectively. Omega-3s decrease the probability of a clot blocking the artery in the brain (stroke), heart (heart attack), lungs (pulmonary embolism) or the organ (peripheral vascular disease...that is gangrene). Omega-3s will lower high blood pressure. 
2. Cancers
Omega-3s dissolve tumors. Max Gerson used linseed oil for this purpose in his clinic. Dr. Budwig in Germany has over 1000 documented cases of successful cancer treatment using linseed oil along with additional support. She has been using linseed oil successfully in cancer therapy for over 30 years now. More recent research shows that Omega-3s kill human cancer cells on the same culture. Breast, lung and prostrate cancer cell lines were studied. 
3. Diabetes
This disease, according to Dr. Budwig, has its origin in deficiency of Omega-3s (as well as Omega-6) fatty acids and is made worse by current lack of vitamins and minerals. 
4. Arthritis
Omega-3's have been found to be effective in the successful treatment and prevention of arthritis. Both fish oils and linseed oil have been used. More recently, research using combinations of the Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids found that 60% of rheumatoid arthritics were able to completely discontinue their non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and another 20% were able to reduce their dosages of NSAID in half. 
5. Asthma
Linseed oil can relieve asthma noticeably, sometimes within a few days of starting to take the oil. 
6. Premenstrual Syndrome
Many cases of PMS are completely relieved within one month with fresh linseed oil. Vitamins and minerals are also very important. 
7. Allergies
Omega-3s help to decrease allergic response. Since the body must be rebuilt, a longer time is needed before allergies are alleviated.  Total nutritional support is required. 
8. Inflammatory Tissue Conditions
Included here are the diseases which end in -itis, in which are meningitis, bursitis, tendinitis, tonsillitis, gastritis, ileitis, colitis, arthritis, phlebitis, prostatitis, nephritis, splenitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, otitis, etc. as well as psoriasis and lupus. All of these inflammatory conditions may be helped by the Omega-3s
9. Water Retention
Linseed oil helps the kidneys remove sodium and water. Water retention (edema) is involved in swollen ankles, some forms of overweight, PMS, and late stages of cancer and cardiovascular disease. 
10. Skin Conditions
Linseed Oil is famous for its ability to make the skin smooth, soft and velvety. It will also alleviate those skin conditions whose origin is the lack of the Omega-3s in the diet. 
11. Vitality
One of the most noticeable signs of improved health from the use of linseed oil is increased vitality, more energy. Athletes notice that their fatigued muscles recover from exercise more quickly. Omega-3s increase stamina. 
12. Calmness Under Stress
Many people find this calming effect of fresh linseed oil to be its most pleasant . Omega-3s fatty acids prevent excess toxic biochemicals which our bodies produce under stress. 
13. Other Conditions
Linseed oil can also be helpful in multiple sclerosis (in places where essential fatty acid consumption is high, multiple sclerosis is very rare); Omega-3s are necessary for visual function (retina), adrenal function (stress), and sperm formation; cystic fibrosis (Omega-3-containing oils will loosen the viscous mucous secretions and relieve breathing difficulties); some cases of sterility and miscarriage; some glandular malfunctions; some behavioral problems (schizophrenia, depression, manic-depressive disorder, etc.); addictions (to drugs or alcohol); and pathologically deviant behaviors.

Examples of Folk and Traditional Medicinal Uses

Flaxseed As a Poultice for Boils and Skin Abscesses
Roll about 3 tbs. of flaxseed in a 6-inch square of clean, white cloth. Twist either end tightly to contain the flaxseed. Holding the flax parcel by each of its two ends, dip the middle portion into a small bowl of boiling water. Wring it out, and place the poultice on the infected area. Cover it with a dry cloth. The flaxseed retains the heat, providing relief to the infected area. Remove the poultice when it has cooled. 
Flax As a Gel for Hair
An Albertan says that when she was young, women used to boil flaxseed in water and then use the liquid as a setting gel for their hair. It apparently worked very well!

Linseed as a Source of Vitamin F (Essential Fatty Acids=EFA)

Fatty Acid Composition of Linseed (Flaxseed) Oil

                                             % of total fatty acids

Saturated fatty acids                  9
Monounsaturated                     18
Polyunsaturated fatty acids 
Omega-3 fatty acids                 57
Omega-6 fatty acids                 16
Omega-3 fatty acids More than half the oil fat in linseed is of the essential omega-3 fatty acid type. Scientific studies reporting health benefits for omega-3 fatty acids show that these fatty acids are required for proper infant growth and development.  New research also suggests that alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid which is abundant in flaxseed, offers protective effects against both coronary heart disease and stroke. Omega-3s have been shown to also protect against hypertension, and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Long-term studies of linseed effects on breast cancer are now underway. 

Omega-6 fatty acids An essential fatty acid, linoleic is the chief polyunsaturated fat in the North American diet.  Most omega-6 fatty acids in the diet come from vegetable oils.

Ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s Studies of hunter gatherer populations show their diets contained roughly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Currently, researchers and nutrition experts recommend people replace some omega-6 fatty acids in their diet with omega-3 fatty acids like those found in flaxseed

Flax oil is the richest vegetable source of Omega-3. Flax and fish oil are great ways to get Omega -3 EFAs in your diet. There are several advantages to using flax oil over fish oil (EPA) to supply your Omega-3 E.F.A. needs. Flax oil contains about twice as many Omega-3s and its specific E.F.A (linolenic acid) is 5 times more stable then fish oil's (EPA). Flax oil requires less processing and costs 80% less than fish oil. Unlike chicken and beef, fish does not have to be federally inspected. This increases the risk that the fish oil may be contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury or chemicals such as PCBs. Farm raised fish may seem reasonable but they usually contain lower levels of EFAs and may be raised on pesticide laden meal. In comparison, organic flax crops are meticulously cared for according to stringent third party organic farming standards.
Some indications that an EFA deficiency or imbalance are present are: dry skin; the need to use moisturizing creams and lotions; "chicken skin", the presence of tiny rough bumps, usually on the back of the arms; dry or unruly hair; dandruff; soft, fraying or brittle nails; menstrual cramps; premenstrual breast tenderness. A person who has these symptoms will often find that they improve by supplementing an otherwise healthy diet with the appropriate oil. Discovering the appropriate oil requires a bit of personal experimentation. Most people in the United States and Europe are short on omega-3 EFAs and will benefit from supplementing their meals with flax oil (one tablespoon a day). Flax oil should be stored in the dark and in the refrigerator; it should not be used for cooking.