Flaxseed, or linseed (Linum usitatissimum) has been cultivated from all times in the Old World. From the dropping of its seeds it may become a weed, and thus is found wild in more or less favored locations throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe. Flax as a fibrous plant has been utilized throughout the journey of human civilization. The Egyptian tombs carry paintings illustrating the weaving of flax into cloth; the grave-clothes of the early Egyptians were made from flax, its record having been traced back to at least 2300 B. C. The seeds of the plant have ever been employed, both as a food and as a medicine. All the early historians, such as the Greek Alcman of the seventh century B. C., Thucydides and Pliny (514), refer to its qualities as a food, reciting that the seeds were used by the people, both externally and internally, as medicines. Charlemagne promoted its growth in Northern Europe. The plant reached Sweden and Norway from its native land before the twelfth century.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.