- Family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae)
- Carthamus tinctorius
- Dyer’s Saffron, American Saffron, Fake/False Saffron, Bastard Saffron, Zaffer, Hong Hua (Chinese), Azafrán (Spanish)
- Do not take flowers or seeds during pregnancy. However, the purified seed oil is safe.
Safflower is one of about fifteen species of Cathamus, and thought to be native to Iran and northwestern India, and possibly Africa. Often cultivated, it is also found in North America and the Far East. Safflower is an annual herb, growing to three feet in open areas. It has long, spiny leaves with six oblong to oval leaflets and groups of yellow flowers arising from the leaf axils. The flowers are gathered as they begin to wilt. The calyx and inferior ovary are removed, and the remainder is put in the warm shade to dry as direct sunlight destroys the colouring pigment. The Safflower or thistle oil is extracted from the embryos of the fruits.
In 19th century North American herbal medicine, safflower was used to induce sweating, to promote the onset of menstruation and as a treatment for measles.
- induces sweating
- inhibits tumors
- pneumonic (helpful to the lungs)
- stimulates menstruation
- linoleic acid (55-88%)
- linolenic acid
- Flowers, seeds, seed oil.
- The polysaccharide in the plant has shown to stimulate immune function in mice.
In Chinese herbal medicine, the flowers are given to treat stomach tumors, stimulate menstruation, relieve abdominal pain, to cleanse and heal wounds and sores, and to treat measles.
In Anglo-American herbal medicine, the flowers are given as a treatment for fever and skin rashes.
In Ayurvedic medicine, the flowers are used for scabies, arthritis, and chest pains. The oil is used prophylactically for arteriosclerosis.
The unpurified seed oil is used as a purgative.
Research indicates that the flowers can reduce the likelihood of coronary artery disease and lower cholesterol levels.
Infusions are used to soothe coughs and bronchial conditions.