FLAXSEED, Linum usitatissiimum
The first time I had any dealings with flaxseed was when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Now, this was way before the time of beauty parlors, or perms, permanent waves, hair spray or even bobby pins. They did have curling irons though, only you had to lay them on the stove or put them in the fire to get them hot. A lot of times these curling irons would get pretty hot and burn your hair.
About that time, it was quite fashionable for the ladies to marcel their hair or have very wavy hair. They had a marcel iron that you put on the stove to get it hot. Then you put your hair in this contaption and it would wrinkle your hair and try to make the hair look wavy. However, this marcelling iron wasn't too successful. Then they came up with some waving gels. You could put some of this sticky, gooey, waving gel on you hair and comb all the waves you wanted into your hair. Now, this was during the Depression, and if you didn't have the money for the waving gel, you bought some flaxseed and boiled it up and strained off the liquid. When this set up, it was the stickiest, slimiest goo that you could find, but it sure held your hair in place. Now, the reason I know all about this is because I had eight sisters. Also, When you are a young kid, it is your sworn duty to tease your older sisters and make fun of them and all the goo they put on their hair to make themselves look pretty. Well, I had six older sisters who were bigger and tougher than me. One day while I was teasing them, they caught me and put this cold gooey stuff all over my head and put waves in my hair. Then they told my buddies. That day I thought I'd learned more about flaxseed than I'd ever wanted to know.
However, since then I have learned that there are many wonderful things about that beautiful little flax plant and those little brown seeds that I didn't know when I was a boy.
First off, linen is made from the stem or the straw of the flax plant. In the early times of the Bible most of the cloths for the temple and all the fine clothes that were used by the priests were made of linen.
The flax plant is mostly an annual. It is widely cultivated throughout the world. It has a single stalk that branches toward the top. The stalk, and most of the branches, grow narrow, thin leaves. Each little branch is topped by one or two blue, five-petaled flowers that bloom from June to August. When the flowers wilt down, a boll or seed capsule develops with 8 to 10 smooth, brown seeds that contain from 30 to 40 percent flaxseed, or linseed, oil.
Flaxseed is an emollient. It is very soothing and softening to skin. The seeds can be ground up and used as a poultice. They have more drawing power than most any other kind of poultice. They will help in an ulceration, an abscess or a deep-seated inflammation. The poultice will help remove a sliver or an infection. It will also help to relieve burns, pain or irritation from a muscle or a joint.
As a demulcent, flaxseed has helped to soothe the mucous membrane for a thousands of years. As a tea, or decoration, it will help to calm any irritation in the digestive tract or the urinary tract, help lung problems and chest problems. It is used in home remedies for coughs and colds and sore throats. It is used commercially in cough medicines. It has been used as a laxative to furnish bulk and to lubricate the bowel.
All in all, it has been a useful herb in many ways for thousands of years. But the best part of the flax plant or seed, is the oil. In the last few years, many studies have been done in Europe on the healing and nourishing properties of flaxseed oil.