Flax, MountainBotanical Name: Linum catharticum (LINN.)
Family: N.O. Linaceae
Synonyms: Purging Flax. Dwarf Flax. Fairy Flax. Mill Mountain.
Part Used: Whole Herb.
Mountain Flax is a pretty little herb, which grows profusely in hilly pastures.
Description: It is an annual, with a small, thready root, which sends up several slender, smooth, straight stems, which rise to a height of 6 to 8 inches, and are sometimes branched towards the upper part. The leaves are small, linear-oblong and obtuse, the lower ones opposite, and the upper alternate. The flowers, 1/3 to 1/4 of an inch in diameter, are white. The plant at first glance much resembles chickweed, being glaucous and glabrous.
Part Used: The whole herb is used mediinally, both fresh and dried, collected in July, when in flower, in the wild state.
Constituents: A green, bitter resin and a neutral, colourless, crystalline principle of a persistently bitter taste, called Linin, to which the herb owes its activity.
Medicinal Action and Uses: This herb was highly extolled by Gerard as a purgative. It operates chiefly as a gentle cathartic, and is useful in all cases where a brisk purgative is required. As a laxative, it is preferred to senna, though the action is very similar. It is generally taken combined with a carminative, such as peppermint.
The dried herb has been found very useful in muscular rheumatism and catarrhal affections, the infusion of 1 oz. in a pint of boiling water being taken in wineglassful doses. In liver complaints and jaundice, it has been employed with benefit.