The seeds were used medicinally by Maori but precise uses do not seem to have been recorded.
The seed oil is high in linoleic acid. A deficiency of linoleic acid can cause skin problems (see Pharmacology below).
The gum is applied externally to burns, wounds, blisters, sores and ringworm.
The reddish gum from a leaf cut at the base is mixed with water and taken internally as treatment for diarrhoea, dysentery and menstrual problems.
The compound Anthraquinone, which has strong laxative properties, has been isolated from the rhizomes of the ngaro variety of New Zealand flax 1.
This compound also occurs in the roots of the mountain flax, Phormium cookianum 1.
Essential Fatty Acids: The seed oil is rich in linoleic acid, one of the essential fatty acids 2.
A deficiency in linoleic acid could cause skin problems.
Antibacterial and Anticancer Properties: Cucurbitacins, compounds which have antibacterial and anticancer properties, have been isolated from the leaves of Phormium tenax 3.
Antifungal Properties: An antifungal compound, musizin, has been isolated from the roots of Phormium tenax and Phormium cookianum 3.
Among the many uses of the leaves the following uses have been recorded.
To Maori Harakeke is one of the most important and most versatile plants. It is one of the few native plants of economic importance. Its fibre was/is widely used for weaving.
Flax is also used medicinally for a huge range of conditions. Some interesting facts: