Pharmacological properties of flaxseed, Linum usitatissimum Linn., as a potential medicinal plant: An overview
India has a great wealth of naturally occurring plant drugs which have great potential and pharmacological activities. Flaxseed, Linum usitatissimum Linn. is an annual herb which is used in several traditional medicines to cure various diseases. Flaxseed is a cold temperate herb with erect, slender stems belonging to Linaceae family. Leaves are alternate, lance-like and grayish green with three veins. Stems are slender and fibrous; flowers have five pale blue petals in a cluster. The sepals are lance-like and as long as the pointed fruit. The fruit is like a spherical capsule containing two seeds in each of five compartments. The seeds are oval and flatten with a pointed tip. The seed has both medicinal and nutraceutical properties. This seed has been known to possessí antidiabetic, antioxidant, estrogenic, antibacterial, cardio-protective activity etc. The texture of it is crisp and chewy, having a pleasant nasty taste. It is richest vegetarian source of Alpha-linolenic acid(ALA), lignans (phytoestrogen) and soluble mucilage, all having benefits in overall health management. These reports show that it should be studied more broadly for its therapeutic benefits. The review summarizes the information about the phytochemistry, pharmacological activity and toxicity of Flaxseed.
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