Botanical: 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.
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