Flax (Linum) is a fibrous, oily plant from the family Linaceae native to the Middle East. It is a genus of approximately 180 species and grows in various temperate and subtropical regions of the world. The greatest diversity of flax species can be found in the Mediterranean basin. Its preferred habitat includes sunny, rocky areas, cliffs, and warm scrublands. Poland is home to six naturally occurring species, while more varieties are cultivated, the most important of which is Common Flax and is grown commercially for its fibers. Among the so-called decorational species the most important is the North American Flowering Flax. (Source: Wikipedia)
Flax is a herbaceous crop (annual or perennial) ranging from 0.5 m to 1.5 m in height. It is easy to recognize based on the shape of its leaves, which are characteristically smooth, and its cylindrical and multi-branching stems towards the top. The cup of the flower consists of three sections with white edges. The corona is divided into five petals. The flower’s unusual shade of blue is a distinctive feature of flax, though white and yellow varieties occur as well. The flax’s fruit, which is used in traditional folk medicine, is ovular, reddish-brown, features a yellow streak, and is covered in an oily substance.
Flax is important as a:
– crop: components which are extracted include: fibers, oil, varnish, harl, flax residues (material for the production of high-quality paper), marc (processed for animal feed purposes). Flax seed is used in both the pharmaceutical industry and traditional folk medicine.
– oil plant: a source of valuable dietary oil as well as industrial oil. Flax seed contains 35% oil, 20% protein, enzymes and glycosidic acids such as oleic acid, linoleic acid, and stearic acid.
– medicinal plant: (linseed oil) Linseed oil offers a protective coating effect for the mucous of the digestive tract. It is used internally against gastritis and intestinitis as well as against cystitis and urethritis. External uses include applications against inflammation of the skin, sores, and eczema.
– decorational plant. (based on Wikipedia)
The traditional production process of flax includes:
– ginning and threshing
– retting (soaking)
– breaking and scutching flax or separating short fibers
– sorting fibers
Flax is known and cultivated on all the continents. Despite the extraordinary value of the plant in practical use, the cultivation area of flax in Europe and Poland is systematically shrinking. Flax products are being ousted by modern substitutes. Yet the philosophy of NATURLEN remains unchanged – we wish to restore flax and its advantageous effects for the benefit of people in Poland and beyond. We believe in nature and its strength!
Flax was already being cultivated 6000 years BC. Like wheat, lentils, barley, and peas, it is native to the Middle East (specifically to Nahal Nemar or Jericho). Flax was originally domesticated in the lands of modern-day Syria, in the lands north of the agricultural zone of the ancient regions of the Mediterranean Sea as well as in the lands of southwestern Iran. Flax subsequently spread to Africa and Europe. In Egypt it was cultivated along the banks of the Nile and in Europe it appeared in what is now modern-day Denmark during the Neolithic. The first documents confirming the cultivation of flax are the drawings and canvasses of ancient Egypt. Egyptian dynastic fabrics were woven from flax. To this day the canvasses discovered in the famous grave of Kha the architect and his wife Merit have been preserved and exhibited in the Egyptian Museum of Turin. Flax cultivation, harvesting, and spinning are excellently described by the sepulchral paintings of ancient Egypt. 2000 years ago in Palestine flax fabrics were used in the making of ritualistic robes of Jewish priests and played a role in ceremonies of mourning. Flax seed was used (and is used to this day) for dietary and medical purposes. In Ethiopia it is still used to make traveler’s bread. The famous shroud of Turin is woven from flax.
Flax seed and flax flour have long been used as emollients and anti-inflammatory agents, though today the obvious medicinal powers of this plant are forgotten. Flax is also used as an oil drying agent thanks to its siccative properties. It purportedly is also the oldest solvent for varnishes (an ingredient of minium) and an anti-rust agent.
Flax was one of the basic crops throughout Poland and the old Republic. In the times of the Second Republic the cultivation of flax was one of the economic priorities of Poland and thus was supported by the Polish government. In those days, flax was treated as an element of political economy, promising to bolster the economic independence of the country. Flax cultivation was driven by powerful patrons, one of whom was General Żeligowski. After World War II, despite a period of flourishing and flax promotion (of the brand “Polish Flax”) during the Polish People’s Republic, the tradition and technology of its cultivation gradually dissipated, only to nearly disappear in the Third Polish Republic.
Much research into the benefits and positive applications of flax is being carried out by national institutes (The Poznan Institute of Natural Fibers) and international ones, confirming the positive properties and effects of this raw material. One of the precursors of using flax and flax-derived yarn in medical dressings is Professor Jan Szopa-Skórkowski of the University of Wrocław, who has been conducting research on the potential applications of flax based on the genetic patterns of genetically modified flax.
The NATURLEN team is striving to revive industrial uses of flax. The rich heritage of flax cultivation in Poland is waiting for pioneers and popularizers, for the wondrous properties of this plant have yet to be fully discovered. We dream of a day when Polish fields will again blossom with the blue of flax!
Flax fabrics are a prized product on the market – they are known for their smoothness, silky shine, durability, ease of use, and natural appearance. Flax fiber is tough against friction and stretching. After every wash flax fabrics get stronger and look even better. Flax fabric stays pleasant and cool to the touch, offers high sorption qualities, and is perfectly hygroscopic. Flax fibers differ from competing materials in their ability to be highly absorbent – even after absorbing 1/5 of their own mass flax fibers do not feel damp. These are exactly the qualities that make NATURLEN dressings so unique. As an additive, flax has a positive effect on the qualities of the fabric in which it’s present. Flax fabrics are also distinguished by their anti-bacterial properties. They resist the build-up of static charges, do not irritate the skin, and do not trigger allergic reactions, all while fostering an ideal microclimate for the skin. What’s more, the lignin content of flax fibers does an excellent job of absorbing UV rays.
Last but not least, flax is natural, environmentally friendly, renewable, fully biodegradable, and waste-free.
Here at NATURLEN we treat flax like a national treasure that has almost been forgotten. Rediscover the power of nature, surround yourself with flax, and let it heal you!
Natural flax dressings by NATURLEN are finally at your disposal!