Linum usitatissimum Linn

Lipasis rostrata Rehd. 377

Habitat ► Cultivated mainly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Rajasthan.

Ayurvedic ► Atasi, Umaa, Masrnaa, Nilapushpi, Kshumaa.

Ali, Virai, Sirrali

Action ► Seed—demulcent, emollient, laxative, antilipidemic, antitussive, pectoral (used in bronchitis and cough). Flowers—used as nervine and cardiac tonic. Oil— used in burns, skin injuries and sores.

Key application ► Internally, for chronic constipation, for colons damaged by abuse of laxatives, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, symptomatic short-term treatment of gastritis and enteritis. Externally, for painful skin inflammations. (German Commission E, ESCOP, The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia.)

The plant contains chlorogenic acid and its isomer. Also present are palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic acids, along with amino acids, and sugars. Linseed also contains mucilage (3-10%) in epidermis; fatty oil (30-40%); cyanogenic glycosides (0.05-00.1%) mainly linus-tatin, neolinustatin and linamarin; lig-nans; phenylpropane derivatives including linusitamarin. (Cyanogenic glycosides are not found toxic in therapeutic doses as these are broken down only to a limited extent in the body.)

The seeds are an excellent source of dietary alpha-linolenic acid for modifying plasma and tissue lipids. Flaxseed preparations reduced atherogenic risk in hyperlipemic patients. (Cited in Expanded Commission E Monographs.)

Human studies have indicated Flax-seed's use in atherosclerosis, hyperc-holesterolemia, lupus nephritis, chronic renal diseases and in cancer prevention (active principle: lignan precursor secoisolariciresinol diglycoside). (Sharon M. Herr. Also Am J Clin Nutr, 1999, 69, 395-402.)

The PP glucose response to a 50 g carbohydrate load given as Flaxseed bread was found to be 27% lower when compared with regular white bread.

Taking Flaxseed oil daily for 3 months did not improve symptoms of pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis and no effect was observed on RA, such as C-reactive protein and ESR. (Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2007.)

The water-binding capacity and rhe-ological properties of linseed mucilage resembled those of guar gum.

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