Flax plant or Linseed (Atasi) in Ayurveda – Benefits & Dose

After many scientific studies, Flaxseed or linseed has emerged as a superfood. Owing to its richness of omega-3 fatty acids, fibers, and lignans, people are including it more and more in their daily diet. Linseed has been used as a medicine in Ayurveda for 5000 years. It is known for its potential benefits in heart disorders, atherosclerosis, neurological diseases, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Let’s learn what makes linseed a superfood and useful medicine.

Linseed – All you need to know

The Sanskrit name of linseed is ‘Atasi.’ In Ayurveda, it is considered very effective in Vata-related disorders. The flax plant is an annual herb with a tall, slender, leafy stem having small, attractive blue or white flowers. Fruits are round, dry capsules with shiny, flattened brown seeds. Flaxseed has two varieties – brown and golden.

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The flax plant is a native of Egypt. It is also extensively cultivated in India, China, USA, Russia, and Ethiopia. Seed and oil are the most used parts of the flax plant in Ayurveda. Linseed contains 37-44 (%) percent of fixed oil, which is rich in polyunsaturated fats. It is the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acid i.e., alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Pure linseed oil is colorless, while commercial oil is dark-yellow in color.

Linseed also has a good quality of dietary fibers, mucilage, proteins, lignans, wax, sugar, Vitamin-E, and an array of anti-oxidants.

Properties of linseed

Linseed has sweet and bitter rasa (taste). It is heavy to digest and it is oily and slippery to touch. After digestion, it acquires pungent taste and is hot in potency.  Linseed balances vata dosha and increases kapha and pitta dosha.

What are the benefits of linseed?

Various clinical studies have shown the potential of linseed in alleviating multiple diseases. Here are the benefits of linseed and its oil as per Ayurveda.

Best for vata-related disorders

Linseed balances the vata dosha. Hence, it works best in vata-related disorders such as paralysis, neuralgia, constipation, bloating, etc.

Keeps your skin healthy

The presence of vitamin-E, zinc, antioxidants, and polyunsaturated fatty acids makes linseed ideal for skin health. It softens and lubricates the skin and helps in treating skin disorders.

Aids in emptying bowels

Linseed is rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. They increase the fecal bulk, improve laxation, and prevent constipation.

Good anti-inflammatory effect

Linseed shows an anti-inflammatory effect. It relaxes muscles, relieves the tension and pain in inflamed tissues. Thus, it is beneficial in lupus, polycystic kidney disease, arthritis.

Keeps your weight under check

Dietary fibers in linseed help control appetite and blood glucose. Chewing roasted linseed keeps hunger at bay, and also, using linseed oil is ideal for obesity.

Looks after your brain and heart

Lignans in linseed carry lipid-lowering and anti-oxidant properties. Moreover, omega-3 fatty acid ALA improves brain and heart function. Thus, it prevents the risk of cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

Maintains bone health

Linseed is high in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibers i.e., lignans, which is proven to be a very good phyto-estrogen. Linseed promotes bone health and relieves post-menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, bloating, mild diarrhea, etc.

How to use linseed?

Linseed is being used as food in the form of flour, oil, pastry, poultice, and animal feed. But there are more ways to use linseed and its oil to exploit their medicinal properties.

Gout and arthritis

  • If you suffer from gout, prepare a paste of linseed and castor seeds with milk and apply on the affected part
  • Soak linseed in sour buttermilk until it moistens well. Thereafter make a smooth paste. Apply the paste over the joints to relieve the pain

Linseed tea

Boil 30g of linseed in 500ml of water with little licorice root for 10 minutes, strain, and sweeten with sugar. Take it three times daily before a meal. This infusion of linseed acts as an excellent expectorant drink in cold, cough, and bronchial infection.

Tuberculosis

Steep 30g of ground linseed in a glass of water and keep it overnight. In the morning, stir it and consume it with a little lime juice. This acts as a nourishing tonic in tuberculosis.

Wound and abscess

Make a poultice of roasted crushed linseed and apply it to ulcerated and inflamed surfaces, boils, carbuncles, abscesses, etc. Linseed heals wounds and abscesses quicker.

Piles

If you have piles, then it suggested that you should take 15-30g of linseed in divided dose every morning and evening.

Constipation

  • Enema of 500ml of linseed oil acts as a good laxative in chronic constipation
  • To relieve constipation, you may mix a teaspoon of linseed with regular cereal or consume a teaspoon of linseed with warm water or prepare a hot infusion

Obesity and Cholesterol

To control obesity, add 2-3ml of linseed oil in a cup of warm water and take an empty stomach daily.

Burns

A mixture of equal parts of linseed oil and lime water is a popular remedy for burns and scalds.

What is the correct dose of linseed?

1-3 tablespoon is the general recommendation for daily intake of ground linseed. 5-15 ml of linseed oil can be used in a day.

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Final thoughts

Linseed oil is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and hence is a good substitute for fish oil supplements. Moreover, due to the growing popularity of linseed, it is now used as an ingredient in baked foods, juices, milk, wheat flour, muffins, and pasta.

There is the presence of phytoconstituents in Linseed and thus, this makes linseed ideal for daily use to boost brain and heart health. Also, Flaxseed benefits people suffering from high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, obesity, cough, gout, arthritis, constipation, and piles.

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