Mountain Flax

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Linum catharticum (L)

Synonyms: Purging Flax, Fairy flax

Order: Linaceae

Description: This is a small native annual British and European plant which grows in meadows and pastures. The small leaves are opposite, the lower ones obovate and the upper ones lanceolate, with entire margins. The white flowers are small, with five pointed petals and serrate sepals arranged in a loose panicle.

Parts used: aerial parts

Collection: during flowering in July.

Constituents: volatile oil, bitter substance (linin), resin, tannin

Actions: laxative, diuretic, emetic, antirheumatic

Indications: constipation, antirheumatic, diuretic

Therapeutics and Pharmacology: Linum is a potent laxative, emetic in large doses. It has been used in the treatment of muscular rheumatism, liver complaints and catarrhal conditions.

Combinations: Linum should be combined with carminative herbs to prevent griping.

Caution: Large quantities can cause fatal poisoning.

Preparation and Dosage:

Regulatory Status: GSL

Liquid Extract: 2-4ml

Additional Comments: An infusion of this herb was a traditional folk remedy for rheumatism and liver complaints, largely because its strong laxative action helps rid the body of toxins. Gerard favoured it as a purgative.



Grieve, M. 1931 A Modern Herbal, (ed. C.F. Leyel 1985), London.

Lust, J. 1990 The Herb Book, Bantam, London.

Ody, P. 1993 The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal, Dorling Kindersley, London.

Weiss, R.F. 1991 Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Arcanum, Beaconsfield.

Wren, R.C. 1988 Potter's New Cyclopaedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations, C.W.Daniel, Saffron Walden.


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Christine Haughton, MA MNIMH MCPP FRSPH

Wold Farm, West Heslerton, Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 8RY, UK

Last updated 27th November 2014     ęPurple Sage Botanicals