Linseed in UK and Europe is the same as Flax in North America
Linum Usitatissimum: The “Useful Linum”
The Americans and English nations have always had differing views on the English language and linseed is a good example of the divergence. The little plant with the Latin name Linum Usitatissimum has been developed over millennia into two distinct strains, one grown for its oil-bearing seed and the other for the fibre that goes into linen.
In English the former is called linseed and the latter is flax. When and why the Americans changed the name of linseed to “flax” isn’t certain but to put your mind to rest, when referred to as a food or remedy, linseed and flax are exactly the same thing.
The Budwig Diet, the FOCC Diet
You may have heard of the Budwig Diet/Budwig Protocol as the Flax Oil Cottage Cheese/FOCC Diet. When Dr Johanna Budwig, who was German, was treating her patients she referred to “Leinsamen” (linseed) and Leinöl (linseed oil) – names that sound similar in most other European languages.
Other European Names for Linseed and Linseed Oil:
Danish: hørfrø, hørfrøolie, linolie
French: graines de lin, huile de lin
German: Leinsamen, Leinöl
Italian: semi di lino, olio di semi di lino
Portuguese: linhaça, óleo (m) de linhaça
Spanish: linaza, aceite de linaza
Don’t Eat the Linseed Oil used for Cricket Bats!
There are many examples of English English and American English causing confusion.
Nowadays in North America when linseed is processed for use as human food, it is called flax. The term linseed is reserved for products used industrially – paints, varnishes and so on.
Edible varieties of linseed are grown in North America, but because the oil is pressed industrially at high temperature, it is not suitable for human consumption, and is instead sold for non-food purposes.
Here in the UK there is industrially process linseed oil; it is sold in art shops for oil painting and hardware for treating wood – and, of course, to oil cricket bats (and, for those of you in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, your stoolball bats too!).
So please don’t be tempted to try that industrial-grade linseed oil: you won’t enjoy it; it is rancid and actively bad for you.
Fresh Gently Cold-pressed Linseed Oil is a Superfood
Cold-pressed linseed oil from the right, non-GM varieties of linseed that have been harvested at the right time, stored correctly and gently cold-pressed to produce an oil such as we make at Flax Farm makes a lovely mild oil, full of omega-3 and is perfect for the Budwig Diet.