The Flaxseed poultice is probably one of the most famous applications of the herb. The ground seed is mixed with boiling water until it is a thick mush.
This erect, delicate, 8-22 inch annual is slender. The glabrous stem has few branches and bears alternate, sessile, simple, entire, lanceolate to oblong leaves. Each branch has 1-2 blue or violet-blue, flat, 5 petaled flowers. The fruit is a 10 seeded capsule, seeds are smooth, flattened, shiny, oily and brown. It is cultivated in the U.S., mostly in the northwestern states, found wild along roadsides, railroad lines, waste places. The seeds are mineral-rich and yields a cold-pressed oil for cooking.
Origin(s): Canada, Kazakhstan, United States.
Latin Name(s): Linum usitatissimum.
Also known as: Linseed.
Plant Part(s) Used: Seed.
Appearance: Brown, Beige.
Aroma: Nutty, oily.
Taste: Pleasant, nut-like, sesame-like.
GMO Status: Non-GMO.
Additives: Free of any additives or preservatives.
Applications / Preparations: Can be put into capsules, oils, salads, soups, cereals, breads, muffins, breakfast bars, smoothies or infused as an herbal extract. For cosmetic use can boil the whole seeds in water and strain, then use the reserved liquid as a natural hair dye.
Storage: Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Shelf Life: It is very difficult to pin down an exact expiration date for most single herbs as they do not really expire, they lose potency or strength over time but will still have value. Unlike synthetic material or drugs, herbs can contain many constituents that contribute to their medicinal effects. Even if when we know what the active constituents are, there are often many of them in a single herb, each with different rates of degradation. Some herbs lose their effect more easily. Other herbs that possess more stable compounds such as alkaloids or steroids will last much longer.
A huge part of the degradation rate of herbs depends also on the storage conditions of the herb, & even on the quality of the herb before storage – how it was grown, harvested, dried & processed. If the product is left in hot places or open to sunlight then it will degrade much quicker than if it was stored in cool, dry place & sealed tightly.
A good rule of thumb is that herbs should be stored no longer than 2-3 years but many herbs will have great strength much longer than that. To determine if a an herb is still good you can check the appearance & aroma. Herbs that are no longer acceptable will have lost much of its vibrant color & will instead appear dull & faded. The bigger key though is to smell the raw materials to see if the potent aroma is still present.
Warning: Flax seed should be taken with at least 200 ml (6 oz) of water. Orally administered drugs should be taken one hour before use or several hours after, as flax seed may slow the absorption.