Raw Materials Flax


11/18/13 15:11:30 (5 comments)

by: Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta


Botanical Name: Linum usitatissimum
Family: Linaceae
Linseed originated from India and was first domesticated in the so called “fertile crescent.” The Fertile Crescent is an historical, crescent-shaped region in the Middle East incorporating the Levant (an area in the Middle East, south of the Taurus Mountains), Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.
Flax is among the oldest fiber crops in the world. The use of flax for the production of linen dates back 5,000 years. Pictures on tombs and temple walls depict the flowers of flax plants. The “fine linen” mentioned in the Bible has been satisfactorily proven to have been spun from flax.
The use of flax fiber in the manufacturing of cloth in northern Europe dates back to Neolithic times. In North America, flax was introduced by the Pilgrims. Currently, most flax produced in the USA and Canada is seed flax for the production of linseed oil or flaxseed for human consumption.
Linseed is a versatile, blue-flowered crop. Flax is one of the few plant species capable of producing truly blue flowers, although not all flax varieties produce blue flowers. Flax is an erect annual plant that grows up to 120 cm tall, with slender stems. The leaves are alternate, greyish green, slender lanceolate, 2 to 4 cm long and 3 mm broad. The flowers are bright blue or white, 1.5 to 2.0 cm in diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a round, dry capsule, 5 to 9 cm in diameter, containing several glossy brown or yellow seeds. The seeds are 4 to 7 mm long and become sticky when wet. The color of the seeds depends on the variety and the amount of pigment in the outer seed coat—the more pigment, the darker the seed.  Flax seeds may vary in color from a deep brown to a light yellow. Seed color is easily modified through simple plant breeding techniques.
Flax is a good source of plant omega-3 fat, dietary fiber and other nutrients. Flax fibre is obtained by stripping the bark or “bast fibers” from the stem of the linseed plant. The term "linseed" refers to brown or yellow seed types containing 35 to 45% oil and 18 to 26% protein. Flaxseed is high in lignans—up to 800 times the amount in any tested plant food. Lignans have been called natural cancer-protective compounds. Flaxseed is also high in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which has been found to be promising as a cancer-fighting agent. 

Linseed (Flaxseed) oil has a slightly nutty odor which can compromise or even overwhelm if blended with more subtle aromatherapy essential oils such as Neroli.
Flax Seed itself has no odor, so it is usually identified as unscented. Flax seeds are very small, about the size of a sesame seed, so a flaxseed wrap is very comfortable and conforming—no lumps or pits. The seeds have the ability to retain a moist heat for a long period of time and can be heated over and over and over.  Flax seeds can be heated hundreds of times and it looks like as they hold the heat as well as the first time. They also work as a cold pack. The seeds don't freeze solid.
Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today's foods. Nutritionists are instructing their diabetic patients to eat flax daily. It has been discovered that the omega-3 fat and high fiber in flax may play a role in the fight against diabetes. It is believed that those who ate flaxseed bread had blood sugar levels 28 per cent lower an hour after eating than their counterparts who ate bread made with wheat flour! 


Dr. Chandra Shekhar Gupta

Dr. Chandra Shekhar is a botanist, plant pathologist and nature-loving person. Dr. Shekkar works as an Assistant Scientific Officer at the National Institute of Plant Health Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Hyderabad, India.

A Fragrantica writer since 2011, Dr. Shekhar contributes educational content about raw materials (plants).




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thank you, nice article!


I used to paint with oils and I always loved to smell the linseed and turpentine mixture. Thanks for the article!


big big thanks! it is very interesting and of much use. Flax is something what is grown a lot in my country, far North-


As usual, great article, thank you Dr. Gupta!


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