Botanical: Carthamus tinctorius
Family: Compositae (daisy) - Asteraceae (aster)
Other common names: False Saffron, Dyer's Saffron, Parrot Plant, American Saffron, Azafran,
Safflower oil, rich in polyunsaturates, has become synonymous with supporting good heart health by helping to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Now Safflower is available as a dietary supplement that is also used to cleanse the blood and improve circulation, and also alleviate the painful, stiff joints of arthritis and gout.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Safflower is a spiny-leaved annual with prickly oval leaves (click image to the right for a larger view of the leaves) and a red/orange/yellow flower that grows to a height of three feet and thrives in light, dry soil in sunny places. This bitter, aromatic herb is native to the Mediterranean area and Middle East, but the exact country of origin is undetermined. It is now widely cultivated in Europe and North America and is enormously commercially valuable for its oil. Safflower is being produced commercially in more than sixty countries worldwide, with India, the United States and Mexico as the leading suppliers, and Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, China, Argentina and Australia accounting for the rest. Safflower is not related to Saffron, although the flowers are used similarly, and were both used as a brilliant dye for silks. In addition, the Portuguese, in the 1700s, added Safflower to foods as a Saffron substitute, and the flowers are occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for Saffron; consequently, Safflower is sometimes commonly called False Saffron and Bastard Saffron. Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops, and its use dates back to the ancients. Its utilization in textile dyeing was evident in mummy wrappings of 3500 B.C. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles that dated to the twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from Safflower, and garlands made from Safflowers were found in the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankamun. The herb was described in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in 1061 A.D., and in medieval records of medicinal use, Safflower was prescribed by physicians as a highly stimulant antispasmodic and to relieve menstrual cramping and pain in women. A tonic was made in the Middle Ages to relieve constipation and respiratory problems, and a tea was prescribed for colds, flu and fevers. Originally grown for its rich dye, Safflower is still used for the brilliant yellow and red hues that the flowers yield. Mixed with talc, it is included in cosmetic rouges, and the flowers are often part of fragrant potpourris. The oil is also incorporated into varnishes and paints. However, since scientists found that Safflower oil has one of the highest percentages of polyunsaturates available and the lowest cholesterol content, the demand for Safflower has become huge as part of a heart-health conscious diet. Safflower is rich in the valuable and essential, fatty linoleic acid, and other constituents include linolenic fatty acid, palmitic acid, arachidic acid, stearic acid, lignins and pigment (carthamone).
Safflower has become famous for its help in lowering cholesterol and maintaining good coronary health. It is rich in linoleic acid, the essential fatty acid that supports lower blood cholesterol and helps to prevent heart disease. Consumption of polyunsaturates in the diet helps to remove arterial plaque and reduce blood cholesterol, enhancing blood circulation and making it effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
Safflower improves circulation and aids in blood vascular cleansing. It has been used to treat and reverse a condition of congested and stagnant blood (poor blood circulation), reduce blood clots and ease lower abdominal pains caused by blood congestion in women. Safflower also helps to stimulate congested or obstructed menstrual blood flow.
As a laxative, Safflower is said to be an effective bowel cleanser that also improves colon function.
Safflower has been used for centuries as a diaphoretic to induce perspiration, thereby helping to diminish fevers and cool the body. The herb is also considered an effective diuretic and bladder cleanser.
As an herbal anti-inflammatory, Safflower is believed to be very helpful in treating gout and stiff, arthritic joint pain. The herb helps to clear toxins and wastes from the system and acts indirectly by stimulating hydrochloric acid production that helps to neutralize, dissolve and eliminate uric acid deposits from the system. It also has become part of sports formulas to help reduce lactic acid build-up in athletes after strenuous exercise.
Safflower is believed to aid good digestion. It is a bitter herb, sometimes called a soothing, digestive-tract healant that is good for heartburn, gas, diverticulitis and ulcers.
Safflower is said to improve liver function and increase the production and release of bile, thereby helping to treat jaundice and liver ailments. Increased bile production is also associated with improved digestion.
Safflower has been found to have a calming effect on hysteria and panic attacks.
Safflower is thought to help the respiratory tract by helping to remove phlegm from the system and clear the lungs. It is also believed useful for relieving symptoms of phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis, a serious infectious disease caused by mycobacteria).
Used externally, Safflower has been used to alleviate skin diseases and is a good wash for measles rash, scarlatina and other inflammatory eruptions of the skin, including those of viral origin.
Pregnant women should not use Safflower Herbal Supplement.
Those who suffer from allergies to members of the daisy (Compositae) family (ragweed, asters, sunflowers, etc.) should consult a doctor before using this product.