The flax plant, Linum usitatissimum, is one of the oldest fibre crops and has been cultivated for over 7000 years since Babylonian times. It is the source of fibre for making linen and of oil that is a nutritional supplement, industrial ingredient and a traditional wood finisher. Flax is an annual that produces a small flower which is either red or a beautiful luminous blue. The fruit is a dry capsule containing small slippery brown or yellow seeds which are ground to make the oil. Flax is like the original health food, used by Hippocrates and was deemed to be so beneficial by the emperor Charlemagne that he passed laws about its cultivation and consumption.
Cold pressed Flax seed oil is one of nature’s richest sources of the essential Omega-3 fatty acids. About 40% of the seed by weight is oil and over half of that is the unsaturated Omega-3 linolenic acid. It also contains the unsaturated oleic acid and linoleic acid, as well as the saturated fatty acids palmitic and stearic acids which make up a little over 10% of the total. Flax Seed Oil is brownish to golden with a nutty flavour and typically does not contain the lignans found in the flax seed unless they have been added during processing.
Flax Seed Oil is an all over tonic and preventative medicine. It is analgesic, anti-estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, cardiotonic, demulcent, emollient, expectorant and laxative. It improves the functioning of the liver, skin, nails, hair, colon and digestive system. Much of the benefit of Flax Seed Oil comes from its high Omega-3 content, the essential fatty acid that is alarmingly deficient in the modern diet. Omega-3s form a critical component of almost all cell membranes and play a vital role in reducing levels of the inflammatory compounds in the body that are linked to every chronic disease from diabetes to asthma, arthritis, cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. The Omegas in Flax Seed Oil support healthy brain function, memory, mood, vision, learning ability and coordination and are necessary for hormone production.
The lignans present in high lignan Flax Seed Oil and in flax seeds are phytonutrients with antioxidant and estrogenic qualities that are helpful in certain cancers, osteoporosis and high blood pressure.
Used internally, Flax Seed Oil helps overcome hardening, dryness, flakiness and scaling of the skin in conditions like eczema, rosacea, acne and psoriasis because of its ability to regulate the fluidity of cell membranes.
Flax Seed Oil can be used as a supplement mixed with juice or on salads or it can be taken in capsule form. It is helpful for preventing and reversing chronic disease, allergies, hair loss and skin problems as well as behavioural problems and depression. Many people report it also helps with dry eyes, PMS, menopausal symptoms and pregnancy.
It is not suitable for cooking because it is easily damaged by light, heat and oxygen and should be stored in a dark bottle in the fridge and used within a few weeks.