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BOOK of HERBS

Hirsute flax

Flax is an annual plant with characteristic blue flowers. It is commonly cultivated in Poland.

Flax probably has been domesticated very early – approximately 9,000 years ago. Roughly it is a period when people had started to tame dogs and pigs and when the very early totemism raised. It was found that flax has been used by our ancestor as an edible plant and for cloth manufacture. We do not know whether its medical properties were known those days. We can be sure that flax has been used by the ancient Egiptian medics in their practice.

In our time flax is even more appreciated. The modern scourge of civilized man, gastrointestinal diseases related to obesity and excessive blood cholesterol levels, are successfully treated with flax. Sedentary lifestyle, random diets and continuous stress may cause hyperacidity, chronic constipation and metabolic changes, which may lead to gastric and duodenal ulcer formation, inflammation of the lower gastrointestinal tract and atherosclerotic cholesterol deposits in blood vessels, which in turn can cause many other serious diseases. Chipped flax seeds (Semen Lini) given orally slightly irritate the intestinal wall and as they are extremely rich in mucilage, loosens the faecal mass, which facilitates abundant defecation. Flax mucilages also protect stomach and intenstine walls from harmful external and internal (e.g. hydrochloric acid) agents. Small content of prussic acid removes harmful intestinal bacteria. Flax seed mucilages protect throat and bronchi in a similar way, thus it may be used as a cough-soothing agent.

Semen Lini is also a gentle diuretic, which in combination with the above properties makes flax almost phenomenal aid in weight loss the more so because it contains vitamin F having the ability to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Seeds macerated in water may be applied on ulcers and boils as poultices. Water seed extract mitigates the effects of burns and tissue damage caused by corrosive chemicals.