This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Lini Semen Pharm. Lond, & Edinb. Lini fativi C. B. Lini ufitatijfimi Linn. Linseed: reddish-brown, glossy, slippery, flat, pointed nearly oval seeds, of the common slax; an annual herb, cultivated in fields, on account of the mechanic uses of its tough filamentous rind.
These seeds have an unctuous, mucilaginous, sweetish taste, and no remarkable smell. On expression, they yield a large quantity of oil; which, when carefully drawn, without the application of heat, has no particular taste or flavour, though in some properties it differs con-siderably from most of the other oils of this kind; not congealing in winter; not forming a solid soap with fixt alkaline salts(a); acting more powerfully, as a menstruum, on sulphureous bodies, than any other expressed oil that has been tried. The seeds, boiled in water, yield a large proportion of a strong flavourless mucilage: to rectified spirit they give out little or nothing.
Oleum ex-preffum fe-minum lini Ph. Ed. Oleum e fern, lini Ph. Lond.
Infusions of linseed, like other mucilaginous liquors, are used as emollients, incrassants, and obtunders of acrimony, in heat of urine, stran-guries, thin desluxions on the lungs, and other like disorders: a spoonful of the seeds, un-bruifed, is sufficient for a quart of water, larger proportions rendering the liquor disagreeably slimy. The mucilage obtained by infpiffating the infusions, or decoctions, is an excellent addition for reducing disgustful powders into the form of an electuary; occasioning the compound to pass the fauces freely, without sticking or discovering its taste in the mouth. The expressed oil is supposed to be more of a healing and bal-samic nature than the other oils of this class; and has been particularly recommended in coughs, spitting of blood, colics, and constipa-tions of the belly. The seeds in substance, or the matter remaining after the expression of the oil, are employed externally, in emollient and maturating cataplasms., In some places, these seeds, in times of scarcity, have supplied the place of grain, but appeared to be an unwhole-fome, as well as an unpalatable food: Tragus relates, that those who fed upon them in Zealand, had the hypochondres in a short time distended, and the face and other parts swelled; and that not a few died of these complaints.
(a) Geoffroy, Memoires de l' acad. roy. des sciences de Paris, pourl'ann. 1741.