Flax (L. usitatissimum)

The Linaceae Family

Flax is the plant that is used to create the fabric linen. There are approximately 250 species in the Linaceae family. There are 14 genera which are classified into two subcategories. One of these subcategories is Linoideae, this category includes plants such as herbaceous annuals and perennials. In addition, this category encompases woody subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees. The second category is the Hugonioideae family. This family includes plants such as Hugonia, Indorouchera, and Philbornea.[1]

There are identifying traits that separate this plant from many others. The leaves of the flax plant are strappy, long, and slender. The flowers are small and predominately blue with yellow centers, but they can also be shade of red. Flax flowers are considered dicots because they have five petals and two cotyledons. The Linoideae family have 5 fertile stamen, while the Hugonioideae have 10 fertile stamen. In addition, the fruits of the flax plant differ as well. The Linoideae family, the more common family, have simple dry dehiscent capsule fruits that have multiple brown seeds. Hugonioideae on the other hand have simple fleshy drupe fruits.
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flax fruit flower.jpg

Linen Family:

L. usitatissimum

Flax Geographics & Slight Taste of History

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Flax predominately grows in tropical climates including Africa, Australia, and Eurasia. This plant was one of the first plants cultivated by humans. One of the first cultures to use this plant were Egyptians in 8,000 B.C. These individuals used the flax to create linen in which they used not only for clothing but also wraps for the deceased.
As the Puritans made their way from Europe to America, they brought the linen products with them. Phoenician traders also contributed to the spread of the flax plant by introducing the plant and its fabric to Ireland.
One of the main reasons why the plant and fabric spread as much as it did was due to the strength of the fabric, which was preferred over cotton. Another favorable property of this plant is the use of the entire plant. When cultivating flax, all parts of the plant are able to be used for a variety of purposes. The plant can be used to create items other than fabric including oil, straw, soap, and paper.[3] [4]

How Does Flax Affect Humans?

In addition to linen, the flax plant is used for a multitude of purposes that essentially benefit humans.


The flax plant can be cultivated to create a variety of foods including flax oil and flax seeds. The flax plant can be integrated into a variety of foods including oatmeal, yogurt, meatloaf, and pancakes.[5]


The flax plant also has additional health benefits. There is scientific evidence that the additional components of the flax plant can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.
The plant consists of Omega-3 fatty acids. This type of component can promote a healthy heart. Each tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains approximately 1.8 grams of Omega-3.
Another important component of flax is lignans. This component, has estrogen and good antioxidants. It has approximately 75-800x more lignans than any other plant.
Finally, the flax plant is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber can help promote a properly functioning digestive track.
These different benefits are also helpful in lowering glucose levels and improving blood pressure.[6]

Other Health Benefits:

The linen fabric itself has many additional benefits. As previously stated, the fabric is much more durable than many other fabrics including cotton and silk. However, the material is not heavy or thick but rather light and airy. Because of this feature, linen can also assist in preventing or aiding different types of skin rashes and irritants. The fabric is hypoallergenic which works well in reducing eczema, psoriasis, and other types of skin problems.[7]

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A study conducted by Japan scientists concluded that patients who are bed-ridden that lay on linen sheets significantly reduces their probability of getting bedsores.

2-21-best linen.jpg[9]

Linen Use in Psychology?
Linen is not only used for material goods in society today, but also for psychological therapeutic purposes.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops following an event that threatens the individual or makes them feel helpless. Although this disorder is usually seen in individuals who serve in wars such as Vietnam and Afghanistan other events such as sexual assault, rape, death, and natural disasters may cause PTSD.[10]
ptsd 1.jpg

Some of the main symptoms of this disorder include reliving the event, feelings of detachment, becoming emotionally numb, as well as increased anxiety and depression. The individuals PTSD will get increasing worse if the event is not dealt with. There are different types of psychological therapy that individuals will help individuals with PTSD.[11]

===//The Linen Cupboard Metaphor[12]
One type of therapy individuals can use to deal with PTSD is understanding and addressing the event in a proper manor. This metaphor is used to help individuals get a better understanding of the event and why it affects them.
In this metaphor, the event and memories are compared to a messy linen closet. It explains that when you open a door to an or messy linen cupboard items are bound to fall out. This is also true with memories of PTSD. If the individual comes across a reminder of the event the individual can have intense harmful flashbacks that make them relive the event all over again.

If items of a messy linen closet fall out, the automatic reaction is to pick them up, stuff them back in and close the door. This is similar with post traumatic memories, the individual will not address the event or memories because they may feel that they are too traumatic to address and choose to ignore them for the time being. By doing this, the memory or the door of the closet will open unexpectedly without control.
The metaphor compares the items of the closet to the memories. To organize and fix the closet, or address the memories and deal with them, the individual must complete FOUR tasks:
  1. Slowly take the linen items out of the cupboard
  2. Examine them carefully
  3. Folding them neatly
  4. Putting them back in the proper, organized place
Essentially, this creates control and organization of the items (memories). By addressing the memories and examining their influence on the individual, they are able to get a better understanding of why and how they affect the individual. While folding them neatly, the individual understands how the memories affect them. By putting the memories back in the proper place the individual is able to have control over the memories that they now understand and no longer fear. In essence, organizing the linen closet, or memories in the brain, allow the individual to only experience the memories if they want to opposed to having the memories fall out unexpectedly.



  1. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax
  2. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax
  3. ^ http://www.ehow.com/facts_4964517_history-linen-fabric.html#ixzz2R21t99Wf
  4. ^ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-005-0103-3
  5. ^ http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed
  6. ^ http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=81
  7. ^ http://www.spotonstyle.com/linenspot--healthbenefits.html
  8. ^ http://americanpurchase.org/wp-content/uploads/a0823_linen_clothing_2517991973_8915860456.jpg
  9. ^ http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/best-linen-bedding-43411
  10. ^ http://www.helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm
  11. ^ http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/17/ptsd.hardened.arteries/index.html
  12. ^

  13. ^ http://www.e-mailmarketing.com.au/solsen/domestic_downsizing/3_Domestic_Downsizing_Declutter_and_Design_eNewsletter_How_To_Organise_My_Linen_Closet.html
  14. ^ http://www.marthastewart.com/267216/organizing-a-linen-closet