Latin: Linum usitatissimum
Common name: Flax
Family: Linaceae / Flax Family
Flax is one of the oldest cultivated plants on the world and is cultivated even today in large quantities for the seed and for oil production. Lat. Linum means thread, the fibers in the stem, therefore linum is also called flax. Lat. Usitatissimum means the most used.
The annual, 20 to 70 cm high plant has an upright stem and alternate, narrow leaves, which divide themselves in the upper part of the side branches. At the end of the stems, the beautiful sky-blue colored blossoms are enthroned. They consist of five sky-blue colored fine petals and five finely ciliated petals. From these blossoms, light brown or gold yellow capsules are formed, each containing up to 10 seeds. Flax is easily cultivated by sowing the seeds. This is also possible in a pot on the balcony! Blooming period is from June to August.
Late summer (August to September) is harvest time. The flax is threshed, meaning beaten, thus winning the seeds. In healing arts, the linseeds have also been known as medicine for millennia. They are used whole or milled. The valuable linseed oil is produced by pressing the linseeds. The residues of the pressing process are used as valuable fodder for the cattle. From the stems the flax fibers are produced which are spun into threads in a weaving mill and interwoven into precious linen.
Fish oil is similar concerning its effect, but today there is the danger of heavy metals and polychlorinated byphenyls pollutions of the fish. Linseed oil, however, is produced inland and in specialized processes it is gently cold pressed without oxygen. When the oil is protected from oxygen in a specialized procedure while being pressed and when leaving its protecting seed hulls until it is filled into the bottles, it becomes a tasty delicacy. It is important to know that this valuable but also very sensitive oil has to be kept well closed and protected from the light and has to be kept in the refrigerator. Only then it can be used for therapeutic purposes.
Unfortunately too often cold pressed linseed oil is offered for sale being kept in shelves at room temperature whereby the Omega-3-fatty acids are oxidized. For this reason, it often tastes bitter or spoiled.
It is ideal to live close to a linseed oil-mill or if one knows a farmer who offers freshly pressed linseed oil from controlled biological cultivation. Freshly pressed linseed oil is only stable for two to three months. After that, it is increasingly bitter and uneatable. Only by strictly following these rules the linseed oil truly tastes like a delicacy.
A further reason this special pressing procedure is important is that the air and light-sensitive linseed disintegrates and quickly turns into resin as soon as it contacts air. Then it forms a thin layer. Exactly because of this characteristic, it is used as natural conservation remedy for wood and for the production of oil colors for the art of canvas and panel painting. It serves as the main ingredient for the production of the floor covering Linoleum (made from flax and Oleum). Also due to this characteristic it is recommended not to put it on the skin. One could reach the skin cells from outside but linseed oil oxidizes in the air quickly and a rather firm cover occurs.
In 2013 a study of the nutritional scientist Melanie Koehler of the University of Jena1 proved that “Linseed Oil has health promoting effects”.
Linseeds contain 30 to 40% fatty oils. The linseed oil contains 17% linoleic acid and about 50% linolenic acid (Omega-3-fatty acids). Thus, it offers itself as the optimal source for the health promoting essential fatty acids. This oil is rich in accompanying mucous forming ingredients and lecithin. It contains mineral ingredients, vitamins and flavonoids. According to the research results, linseeds are the richest source of lignin. They are phyto estrogens which could positively influence the hormonal balance, for example, when having difficulties during menopause.
Ruth von Braunschweig declares: “Similar to fish oil, the alpha linolenic acid indirectly takes care of forming certain messengers which improve the flow rate of the blood. In addition, a messenger is inhibited which produces excessive blood coagulation. In addition, alpha-linolenic acid has an analgetic and anti-inflammatory effect. It also has almost but not quite as strong characteristics like aspirin but without its side effects. With linseed oil you can prevent the risk of thrombosis in a natural way which could lead to blood clotting, heart attacks and strokes. Also, the danger of arteriosclerosis is reduced. Besides, the linseed oil has a favorable influence on slightly elevated blood pressure.
The alpha-linolenic acid influences the “positive” prostaglandins which care for a good calcium processing so that osteoporosis can be prevented. Together with the linoleic acid, the linolenic acid has a strong cholesterol reducing effect. The entire blood fatty system is positively influenced. Indeed, linseed oil is a specialist for the vascular system which strengthens and takes care of it and gives the red blood cells a “free ride.” In addition, linseed oil is said to have a favorable effect on breast cancer. It is sensible to integrate it as a prevention measure and as a support of the medical therapy by integrating it in nutrition during follow-up treatments.”2
Our brain needs the highest part of high quality fat in our body. The Omega-3-fatty acids belong to the most important nutrients for the nerve cells. They are essential for a good memory function. Studies have clearly indicated memory furthering effects of Omega-3-fatty acids. Besides, it can also help to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.
Besides a balanced nutrition with freshly prepared foods, we receive an important contribution of our health through the linseed oils. The Omega-3-fatty acids contribute to a normal development and growth of the organism.
Linseed is supposed to be the only nutritional oil which has more Omega-3-fatty acids than it has Omega-6-fatty acids and thus it can balance the health damaging excessive. This is important because we are swamped by the modern food intake habits such as fast food etc., of cheap and durable Omega-6-fatty acids and saturated fats. This might lead to a mismanagement of our prostaglandins and might be the cause of inflammatory reactions, allergies, false blood fats, cholesterol, problems with the immune system and diabetes.
Hans-Ulrich Grimm describes: “Linseed oil can reduce inflammatory reactions. This has been proven by Australian scientists at the royal Adalaide Hospital. Totally healthy test persons were allowed to have foods on a daily basis which were enriched with linseed oil. The result: the more the Omega-3-fatty acids from the oil in the cells of the test person were enriched, the less they had inflammatory reactions in their bodies. This was measured by the inflammatory indicators in the blood like the so called Interleukin-1 or the material TNF (tumor necrosis factor) – they were reduced by about 30%.”3
Mrs. Dr. Johanna Budwig was the chief expert for medicines and fats in the Federal Institute for Fat Research. As a pharmacist and chemist, she researched among others the effects of the nutritional fats on the cells of the human body. From her research, she found out that the multiple non-saturated fatty acids together with the sulphureous proteins are responsible for a healthy cellular respiration. From this knowledge, the world renowned cancer researcher developed an oil-protein nutrition for prevention and control of cancer. Quark and linseed oil take care for a good cell metabolism as she describes in her book “Oil-Protein-Food”4.
1-2 table spoons freshly ground or shredded linseeds
100 g fat reduced Quark
1 table spoon linseed oil
In order to shred the whole linseeds you need a household mortar or a hand-held blender or a discarded coffee mill. You can have it in the morning for breakfast or as small snacks throughout the day.
1 tea spoon of honey, three table spoons of raw milk, fruits and fruit juices and nut can be added. A multitude of further recipes and idea you can find in the book of Mrs. Dr. Budwig.
*) Vegan variant instead of fat reduced quark: almond puree of good bio-quality emulsified by the lecithin in it with some water and is also merges with the linseed oil contained therein, especially with the Alpha-linolenic acid.
1 table spoon almond puree, 1 table spoon linseed oil, 1 table spoon ground linseed mixed together is very tasty.
1 table spoon of linseed oil covers the daily requirement of cell protecting Omega-3-acids. In order to balance the widely spread lack, you need up to three table spoons per day.
Not only for furthering health but also for gourmets, linseed oil can be used in the prescribed quality in the daily meals, for example:
- Put 1 table spoon of linseed oil into the vegetables before serving
- Mix 1 table spoon of linseed oil with raw sauerkraut
- Squash 1 ripe banana with 1 table spoon of linseed oil
- Enrich the breakfast-smoothie (freshly prepared mixed drink from whole fruits, vegetables and nuts etc.) with 1 table spoon of linseed oil
- For a snack take 1 table spoon of linseed oil
Important: The above mentioned opportunities don’t replace a medical consultation from a doctor or therapist.