Botanical Name: Linum Usitatissimum
Indian Name: Alsi
Description and Composition
Linseed is one of the most important oil seeds. It is. a many. branched bushy annual plant, with erect, slender stems growing upto 30 cms high. It has alternate, stalkless leaves and blue flowers in loose dusters. The fruits are roundish, and 10. celled. Each cell contains one seed which is oval, smooth, shining and usually brown-coloured. Linseed is one of the first crops to be cultivated for its oil, bark fibre and flax.
An analysis of linseed shows it to contain moisture 6.5 per cent, protein 20.3 per cent, fat 37.1 per cent, minerals 2.4 per cent, fibre 4.8 per cent and carbohydrates 28.9 per cent 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 very valuable source of linoleic acid. It contains linoleic and linolenic acids.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Seeds and oil of the plant are both used for their medicinal properties. The seeds increase the volume of urine.
The seeds are beneficial 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 cold 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.
The seeds are valuable in gonorrhoea, irritations of the genito-urinary organs, nephritis and cystitis, provided taken in the form of tea repetitively.
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.
A hot poultice of the seeds is a popular household remedy for skin diseases like boils, abscesses and carbuncles. Equal parts 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.
Methods of Preservation: The seeds are roasted over slow fire, powdered and stored for use when needed.