Linum usitatissimum

Flora Palaestina Ethnobotany

Linum usitatissimum L.


  • Flax
  • kittan كتان
  • pishta tarbutit
  • פִּשְׁתָּה תַּרְבּוּתִית


  • Disturbed habitats
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Medicinal Complaints / Uses

Linum usitatissimum L.

System/State Traditional
Activity / Interpretation
Preparation/ Administration
Parts Used

Stimulant/ irritant


Prepare compress/ poultice using either Linum seeds or Linum seeds + mustard seeds. (See NOTES 1 & 2).

Seed Z
Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT)



Cook seeds in water, mash & spread on cloth/bandage; apply to throat.

Seed Z

Diarrhea/ dysentery

Anti-Infective, Anti-diarrheal

Boil/blanch seeds (Hebrew: "tashlik" (see NOTES 3) or prepare an infusion & drink.

Seed Z


Anti-Infective, Anti-inflammatory, Demulcent

Decoct seeds & use as an enema.

Seed Z
Infectious Diseases



Boil/blanch seeds (Hebrew "tashlik")(see NOTES 3) or prepare an infusion & drink.

Seed Z
Infectious Diseases



Macerate/ soften seeds in water, prepare a compress & apply to swelling.

Seed Z
Kidney & Urinary Tract

Kidney inflammation/ proteinuria/ haematuria


Boil/ blanch seeds (Hebrew "tashlik") (See NOTES 3) or prepare an infusion & drink.

Seed Z
Kidney & Urinary Tract

Kidney stones & sand in urinary tract


1. Cook seeds + barley or barley + "hilbeh" (Trigonella foenum-graecum) & drink.
2. Boil seeds in water & drink.

Seed Z
Musculoskeletal/ Joints

Gout/ rheumatism & internal inflammation

Analgesic, Anti-arthritic, Anti-inflammatory, Uricolytic

1.Prepare poultice (See NOTES 1) by adding boiling water to powdered seeds or cold water to powdered seeds & boiling. (Admin. not specified but probably applied to affected area).
2. Prepare compress (See NOTES 2) by macerating seeds in water & adding to cloth for external application.

Seed Z
Nervous System

Chronic headache


Mix roasted, ground seeds + sugar & eat x1 teaspoonful mornings followed by raw egg.

Seed Z
Oral Health

Halitosis (bad breath)

Mouth wash

Boil seeds in water & use to gargle.

Seed Z

Cough/ rhinorrhoea (runny nose)

Anti-catarrhal, Anti-tussive

1. Boil/blanch seeds (Hebrew: "tashlik") (See NOTES 3) or prepare infusion of them & drink.
2. Roast seeds over fire, grind + fadi sugar & eat x3 teaspoons/day.
3. Cook seeds + "babunej" (Matricaria sp.) + Althaea sp. + sugar & drink.

Seed Z
Womens Health

Uterine inflammation after childbirth


Decoct seeds + "khubbazi" (Malva sp.) & use as douche or enema.

Seed Z
Wound Healing

Open boil/ purulent lesion/ wound


1. Grind seeds, moisten + water or vinegar & bandage affected area.
2. Cook ground seeds in little water, spread over cloth & bandage lesion (softens & opens lesion).
3. Apply powdered seeds to dry purulent lesion after pus is released.
4. Unravel flax/linen (Linum) cloth, dip in cold water & apply flax fibers to lesion for not more than 6 hours. (CAUTION: cloth should not be left on the lesion for too long.)

Seed, Stem Z

The authors of FLORAPALE, (Flora Palaestina Ethnobotanical) web site do not take responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of the plants described here. Always seek advice from a health professional before using a plant medicinally or for other purposes. See DISCLAIMER.


1. A poultice is a soft moist mass of material (e.g.plant or flour) spread on cloth & then placed over the skin.
2. A compress or fomentation is a folded cloth or pad soaked in a strong herbal solution & applied externally to body part.
3. In some preperations the Hebrew word "tashlik" is used. Z translates this as boiling or blanching a plant & mentions that "it probably differs from a decoction in that a shorter boiling time is needed". The watery extract is then drunk.


Seeds & other parts of some strains of Linum usitatissimum contain cyanogenic glycosides which can be toxic if water is drunk at the same time. Contraindicated in oesophageal stricture, slow bowel movement condition & acute gut inflammatory conditions. Can also cause bowel obstruction if fluid intake is inadequte.