Linum usitatissimum L.
Synonym: Linumcrepitans (Boenn.) Dumort.
Local Name: Alsi
English Name: Flax seed
Sindhi Name: Alsi
Part Used: Seeds
Linum usitatissimum L. is an annual erect herb. It grows to height of approximately 1 to 1.25 m. It has long and narrow greyish-green colored, sessile leaves and slender stems. Pale blue flowers are 15-25 mm in diameter and arranged in terminal erect panicles. The fruit is dry, globose, capsule 5-9 mm in diameter with shiny brown seeds shaped like an apple pip with length of 4-7 mm1,2.
L. usitatissimum is known to be originated in Indian or Middle East regions and grows throughout Asia and Europe3. It is also believed to be originated from “Fertile Crescent”, it is a historical crescent shaped region starting from Middle East running all through South of Taurus Mountains, Mesopotamia, and ancient Egypt4.
Ethnomedicinal Uses in Skin Diseases
Paste of Caryota urens L. (Molasses), Linium usitatissimium L. (Flax seed), and Triticum aestivum L. (Wheat) is applied on the wound for 3 days in District Shikarpur (Sindh).
Boiled water of L. usitatissimium leaves is applied on the affected area of body for the treatment of prickly heat infection in District Nawabshah (Sindh).
Paste of L. usitatissimium fruit is applied on the affected area for curing vitiligo in District Sukkur (Sindh). The same remedy is used for the treatment of ringworm and abscess in Districts Sukkur and Kamber Shahdad Kot(Sindh).
Linium usitatissimium (Flax seed) seeds are ground and mixed with oil and this oil is applied on area affected of abscess in District Kambar Shahdad Kot (Sindh).
Seeds of L. usitatissimum comprise 30-40% oil which constitutes mainly linolenic and linoleic acid5. Saturated fatty acids make up 9- 10% of oil composition and composed of palmitic and stearic acid, unsaturated fatty acid mainly oleic acid makes up about 20% of oil composition. Vitamins and proteins in the flax seeds varies from 20-30% and limited by lysine, vitamin E is present in the form of γ- tocopherol. Seeds of L. ustatissimumare rich source of lignans in the form of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside6. Flax seeds also contain cyanogen glycosides likelinamarin, lotaustralin, linustatin, neolinustatin, and SDG in flaxseed7.
Medicinal Uses and Pharmacology/Scientific Studies
Seeds of L. usitatissimum are known to have several important medicinal uses such as analgesic, laxative, and emollient. Crushed seeds are valuable treatment for ulceration and inflammation. Extract of flax seeds are given for curing cold, cough, and urinary organs’ inflammation. Bruised seeds are eaten for the treatment of chronic constipation. Oil of the seeds contain L-glutamic acid which is good for mental deficiencies. Leaves and bark are used for treatment of gonorrhea. Flowers are a good source of compounds having cardiotonic and nervine capabilities. This plant is also known to possess anticancer activity.8.
- El-Nagdy, G. A., Nassar, D. M., El-Kady, E. A., & El-Yamanee, G. S. (2010). Response of flax plant (Linumusitatissimum) to treatments with mineral and bio-fertilizers from nitrogen and phosphorus. Journal of American science, 6(10), 10.
- Soto-Cerda, B. J., Diederichsen, A., Ragupathy, R., &Cloutier, S. (2013). Genetic characterization of a core collection of flax (Linumusitatissimum L.) suitable for association mapping studies and evidence of divergent selection between fiber and linseed types. BMC plant biology, 13(1), 1.
- Martin, K., &Sauerborn, J. (2013). Origin and Development of Agriculture. In Agroecology (pp. 9-48). Springer Netherlands.
- D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. 1995 ISBN 0-7513-020-31
- Martinchik, A. N., Baturin, A. K., Zubtsov, V. V., &Molofeev, V. (2011). [Nutritional value and functional properties of flaxseed]. Voprosypitaniia, 81(3), 4-10.
- Shim, Y. Y., Gui, B., Arnison, P. G., Wang, Y., &Reaney, M. J. (2014). Flaxseed (Linumusitatissimum L.) bioactive compounds and peptide nomenclature: A review. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 38(1), 5-20.