Linum usitatissimum,


The ripe seeds, with not more than 3 p. c. of other seeds, foreign matter.

Habitat. C. Asia, Egypt, S. Europe, spontaneous in most temperate countries; cultivated in Russia, Egypt, India, United States, S. Europe, England, Holland.

Syn. Flaxseed, Flax, Lint-bells, Winter lien; Br. Lini Semina, Lini Semina Contusa (Crushed); Fr. Lin, Semence (Graine) de Lin; Ger. Semen Lini, Leinsamen, Flachssamen.

Li'num. L. see etymology, page 325, of Linaceae.

U-si-ta-tis'si-mum. L. sup. adj. fr. usitatus, most useful, common, familiar.

Flax'seed. AS. fleax, flechten, to braid, plait, twist - i. e., its fibres, + seed.

Plant. - An annual; stem .6 M. (2°) high, stiff, erect, solitary, round, smooth, green; leaves small, lanceolate, acute, entire, sessile, pale green, 2-4 Cm. (4/5-1 3/5') long; flowers June-July; terminal, bluish; fruit August, globular capsule, size of pea, with persistent calyx at base, crowned with sharp spine, 10-seeded in distinct cells. Seeds, ovate, oblong-lanceolate, flattened, obliquely pointed at one end, 3-5 Mm. (1/8-1/5') long; chestnut-brown, very smooth and shiny, raphe a distinct, light yellow ridge along one edge, easily cut with finger-nail; internally olive-green; oily; odor slight; taste mucilaginous, oily. Powder, light brown; microscopically - large oily globules and irregular fragments of endosperm and seed-coat, the latter characterized by pigment cells with brownish content and stone cells with yellowish walls; mounts in fat-free sample show aleurone grains. Ground (linseed (flaxseed) meal, lini farina, crushed linseed), light olive-brown, with reddish-brown very coarse fragments; both degrees of fineness must be free from unpleasant or rancid odor. Tests: 1. Boil 1 Gm. fat-free (seeds, powder, meal) with water 50 Ml. (Cc.), cool - filtrate + iodine T. S. not more than faint blue color (abs. of starch). 2. Extract (powder) with purified petroleum benzin - yields 30 p. c. of fixed oil, of which 98 p. c. is saponifiable. Solvent: boiling water. Dose, 3j_2 (4-8 Gm.).

Adulterations. - Seeds: Foreign seeds and earthy matter 1-25 p. c. - mustard, rape and other cruciferous seeds, sand, small stones; Powder: Damaged flour, cornmeal, other starchy substances, recognized by microscope or iodine test; expressed cake and that to which mineral oil has been added.

Commercial. - The flax is of ancient origin, being prized for its fabric and medicinal properties; most of our seeds now come from Russia

Fig. 208.   Linum usitatissimum.

Fig. 208. - Linum usitatissimum.

and Germany, but the United States furnishes considerable. When exposed to heat, light, damp atmosphere, or otherwise carelessly preserved, especially the ground, it is subject to insect attack, and should not he used after 1 year old.

Constituents. - Fixed oil 35-40 p. c. (in nucleus), Mucilage, C12H20O10 15 p. c. (in integuments - viscid, odorless, nearly tasteless, precipitated by alcohol, lead subacetate, but not by tannin), proteids 25 p. c., tannin, amygdalin (resin, wax, sugar, no starch (except in young seeds), ash 4-6 p. c. - phosphates, sulphates, chlorides of potassium, calcium, magnesium).

Oleum Lini. Linseed Oil. official. - (Syn., Ol. Lini, Oil of Flaxseed, Raw Linseed Oil; Fr. Huile de Lin; Ger. Leinol, Leinsamenol.) This fixed oil, usually obtained by drying the seeds with heat, crushing, and expressing, is a yellowish, oily liquid, peculiar odor, bland taste; gradually thickens and darkens on exposure, acquiring a strong odor and taste; slightly soluble in alcohol, miscible with ether, chloroform, petroleum benzin, carbon disulphide, oil of turpentine; slightly acid; sp. gr. 0.930, congeals at - 20° C. ( - 4° F.); consists of liquid glycerides of oleic acid, C18H34O2 (5), linoleic acid, C18H32O2 (15), linolenic acid, C18H30O2 (15), and isolinoleic acid, C18H32O2 (65) 85-90 p. c, also a mixture of palmitin, myris-tin, and stearin 10-15 p. c.; also claimed to consist chiefly of linolic acid, 22-25 p. c. of linolenic acid, and 5 p. c. of fatty acids; 1 p. c. of non-saponifiable matter. Linolein, the glyceride of linoleic acid, is considered the drying constituent, which on exposure is converted into oxylinoleic acid hydrate, and finally into linoxyn, C32H54O11 (insoluble in ether, and soon forms in the boiled oil). Yield by cold process 16-20 p. c, by heat 25-28 p. c, the latter being darker, with stronger odor and more acid taste. Impurities: Free acid, non-drying oils, mineral or rosin oils, rosin, Should be kept in well-stoppered containers, and that which has been "boiled" must not be used nor dispensed. Dose, ℥ss-2 (15-60 Ml. (Cc.)).

Preparations. - Oil: 1. Linimentum Calcis, 50 p. c. 2. Liquor Cresolis Compositus, 30 p. c.

Unoff. Preps.: Seeds. Infusion, 5 p. c. Compound Infusion, 5 p. c, + licorice root 2 p. c. These were once official and are effective from the dissolved mucilage of the epithelium (testa), which is altered starch. Dose, ad libitum. Decoction, 5 p. c. Poultice.

Properties. - Demulcent, emollient, diluent, diuretic.

Uses. - Infusion or tea for inflammation of mucous membranes of respiratory, digestive, and urinary organs, renal and vesical irritation, catarrh, dysentery, calculi, strangury. Decoction, owing to the oil it contains, is less acceptable to the mouth, but all the better for enema.

Linum Linseed 451


Linum Linseed 452


Fig. 209. - Flaxseed: a, entire, magnified 3 diam.; b, transverse section near the edge, magnified 65 diam.

Poultice of ground meal to enlarged glands, swellings, boils, pneumonia, etc., made by adding boiling water to meal for proper consistency and bringing to a boil. Should coat skin with glycerin, olive or other oil before applying, and place as near to affected spot as possible; may cover with oiled silk to retain heat and moisture, and may add olive oil, lard, laudanum or any anodyne, stimulating, or astringent solution to poultice. The oil is laxative (℥j; 30 Ml. (Cc.)), excellent in piles (℥j-2; 30-60 Ml. (Cc.) night and morning); sometimes it is added to purgative enemata, also to cover erysipelatous and irritated skin surfaces, but with the disadvantages of soon drying (thus rendering skin stiff) and becoming sour and irritating. The linimentum calcis is applied to recent burns to allay irritation. Allied Products: