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Flax seed

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Flax is botanically named as Linum usitatissimum is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Flax was extensively cultivated in ancient Ethiopia and ancient Egypt. Flax is an erect annual plant growing to 1.2 m tall, with slender stems. The leaves are glaucous green, slender and lanceolate. The flowers are pure pale blue; they can also be bright red. The fruit is a round, dry capsule, containing several glossy brown seeds shaped like an apple pip.
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Listing Details

Botanical Names
Linum usitatissimum
Indian Names
Hindi : Tisi Kannada : Agasi, Akshi Tamil : Aazhi Vidhai Marathi : Jawas, Javas, Alashi Bengali : Tisi Telugu : ouvsalu
Chemical Constituents
Flaxseed is emerging as one of the key sources of phytochemicals in the functional food arena. It is one of the richest sources of -linolenic acid oil and lignans. flaxseed is an essential source of high-quality protein and soluble fibre and has considerable potential as a source of phenolic compounds. Flaxseed is one of the highest natural vegetable sources of linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat and also contains phytoestrogens (lignans), flavonoids, and a complex array of amino acids and minerals (1).
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat. Omega-3 fats are used by the body to produce Series 1 and 3 prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules. Omega-3 fats can help to reduce the inflammation that is a significant factor in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis. Omega-3 fats are used helpful to reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. In the colon, omega-3 fats help to protect the colon cells from cancer-causing toxins and free radicals, leading to a reduced risk for colon cancer. Flaxseed has also shown hypo cholesterolaemic activity in the group of normo cholesterolaemic female subjects, with the effect being mainly on Low Density Lipid-Cholesterol whereas High Density Lipid –Cholesterol remains unchanged. Flaxseeds also possess hypoglycemic activity (2). Traditional varieties of flaxseed are rich in a-linolenate, the soluble fiber mucilage, and mammalian lignan precursors. Flaxseed has potentially beneficial effects on immune function and may have beneficial effects on platelet aggregation. Flaxseed helps to prevent and control high blood pressure as it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty polyunsaturated fatty acids essential to lower blood pressure (3).
Health Benefits
Flaxseed is a nutritional supplement with high concentrations of fatty acids and lignans that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (3).Flaxseed is hypoglycaemic in nature. It has been studied in animals in which two test meal situations, one involving flaxseed flour incorporated into test bread compared with a standard white bread, and the other involving flaxseed mucilage combined with glucose compared with glucose alone. In both cases the lowering of the post-meal change in blood glucose was about 27%. Hence, the increase in blood glucose caused by glucose-rich cereals or snack products could be potentially reduced if these products also contained flaxseed meal or flaxseed mucilage. This could increase the range of foods available to diabetic patients. Flaxseed mucilage might also be hypolipidaemic as has been observed with other soluble fibres (4). Flaxseed is a common additive to many equine diets; often for the purpose of improving skin and hair-coat quality (5). Flaxseed is the richest food source of lignans, one of the major groups of phytoestrogens and is increasingly being incorporated into human diets because of its reported health benefits. Lignans have been implicated as having anti tumorigenic, estrogenic and anti-estrogenic, and antioxidant properties. Rabbits receiving secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, the major lignan found in flaxseed, had reduced hyper cholesterolemic atherosclerosis that could be partly attributed to lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol concentrations. The hypo cholesterolemic effects of whole flaxseed can also be attributed to its linolenic acid and fiber components. Due to structural similarities between lignans and estrogen, it can be postulated that lignans present in flaxseed may also play a role in the maintenance of skeletal health in postmenopausal women (6).
Research References
1. Wendy O’N., Sharyn M. and Andrew F. C. Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation associated with reduced skin test lesional area in horses with Culicoides hypersensitivity The Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research 2002;66:272.277 2. STEPHEN C. C., SUJATA G., CHANTALE M., THOMAS M. S. W. AND DAVID J. A. J. High a-linolenic acid flaxseed (Linurn usiiaiissimurn) : some nutritional properties in humans British Journal of Nutrition (1993), 69:443-453 3. Paul K., Yassine A., Anil V., Charalambos C. S., Evguenia A., Alexander W., Jack C., and Melpo C. S. Dietary Flaxseed Supplementation Ameliorates Inflammation and Oxidative Tissue Damage in Experimental Models of Acute Lung Injury in Mice J. Nutr. 136: 1545–1551, 2006. 4. Stephen C.C., Mazen J H., Andrea C L., Lilian U T., Thomas M. W. and David J. J. Nutritional attributes of traditional flaxseed in healthy young adults13 Am J Clin Nutr 199561:62-68 5. EDRALIN A. L., ROBERT D. W., LISA J. H., DANIA A. K., SHANIL J., BRUCE P. D., BARBARA J. S. AND BAHRAM H. A. Flaxseed Improves Lipid Profile without Altering Biomarkers of Bone Metabolism in Postmenopausal Women The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 87(4):1527–1532 6. Jennifer D B., Wendy E W.,Jacqueline E L., John H., Leslie N., Evelyn W. and Lilian U T. Supplementation with flaxseed alters estrogen metabolism in postmenopausal women to a greater extent than does supplementation with an equal amount of soy Am J Clin Nutr 2004;79:318–325 7. B Dave Oomah Flaxseed as a functional food source† Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture Special Issue: Nutritional Enhancement of Plant Foods (NEODIET) Volume 81, Issue 9, pages 889–894, July 2001 8. Paschos GK, Magkos F, Panagiotakos DB, Votteas V, Zampelas A. Dietary supplementation with flaxseed oil lowers blood pressure in dyslipidaemic patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007, 61(10):1201-6 2007