Safflower oil is rich in polyunsaturates, has become synonymous with maintaining good heart health by reducing cholesterol levels in the blood. Now Safflower is available as a dietary supplement that is also used to cleanse the blood and improve its circulation, and also alleviate the painful, stiff joints of arthritis and gout.
Eurasian like herb (Carthamus tinctorius) of the family Asteraceae (aster family). Safflower, or false saffron, has long been cultivated in South Asia and Egypt for food and medicine and as a costly but inferior substitute for the true saffron dye. In the United States, where it is sometimes called American saffron, it is more important as the source of safflower oil, which has recently come into wide use as cooking oil. Safflower is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, and order Asterales, family Asteraceae.
Safflower is a spiny-leaved annual with prickly oval 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 in the 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 not related to saffron, although the flowers are used similarly, and were both used as a brilliant dye for silks.
The Portuguese, in the 1700s, added Safflower to foods as saffron substitute, hence the reasons that Safflower is sometimes commonly called “False Saffron.”
Safflower’s use dates back to the ancients, and its utilization in textile dyeing was evident in mummy wrappings of 3500 B.C. 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 yellow and red dyes 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-healthy conscious diet. Safflower is rich in the valuable and essential, fatty linoleic acid, and other constituents include linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, lignin’s and pigment.
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 lowers blood cholesterol and helps to prevent heart disease. Consumption of polyunsaturates in the diet helps to remove plaque and reduce blood cholesterol, which makes 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 to induce perspiration, thereby helping to diminish fevers. The herb is also considered an effective diuretic and bladder cleanser.
As an anti-inflammatory, Safflower is believed to be very helpful in treating arthritis, gout and painful, stiff joints. 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. The herb 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.
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.