Carthamus tinctorius

Safflower reportedly promotes sweating, so some people find it helpful at the onset of a cold.

Other Names: Dyer’s Saffron, American Saffron, Fake Saffron, Bastard Saffron, Zaffer

This plant is not in any way related to saffron, though the flowers are used similarly.

safflowerThe Safflower plant, known in India as Koosumbha and in China as Hoang-tchi, is extensively cultivated in India, China and other parts of Asia, also in Egypt and Southern Europe; but its native country is unknown.

There are two types of safflower varieties, the type that produces oil which is high in monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid), and those with high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid). Either type of safflower raised in the Northern Great Plains is very low in saturated fatty acids when compared to other vegetable oils. Only the linoleic safflower is being grown commercially in the Upper Midwest. Varieties with a high content of oleic acid may soon be grown more widely.

The oil in linoleic safflower contains nearly 75 percent linoleic acid, which is considerably higher than corn, soybean, cottonseed, peanut or olive oils. This type of safflower is used primarily for edible oil products such as salad oils and soft margarines. Researchers disagree on whether oils high in polyunsaturated acids, like linoleic acid, help decrease blood cholesterol and the related heart and circulatory problems. Nonetheless, it is considered a “high quality” edible oil.

Safflower is chiefly used for dyeing silk, lending various shades of rose and scarlet. Mixed with finely-powdered talc it forms the wellknown substance called ‘rouge.’

Safflower as an Herb for Medicinal Uses

The medicinal parts of safflower are the flowers, seeds and the oil extracted from its embryos.

Infusions of safflower were used as a laxative.

Safflower blossoms are used in the tea form to treat hysteria, fevers, phlegm, and panic attacks.

In folk medicine, Safflower is mainly used as a stimulant, purgative, antihydrotic, emmenagogue, abortifacient, expectorant, pneumonic and for tumors. It is also added to teas used for soothing coughs and bronchial conditions.

Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon flowers in 1 cup water. Take 1 to 2 cups a day.

Chinese medicine: In China, Safflower flowers treat amenorrhoea and stomach tumors, as well as for external and internal wounds.

Indian Medicine: The flowers are used for scabies, arthritis, and chest pains.

The average daily dose is 3 gm of decoction; single dose is 1 gm.

Culinary Uses of Safflower

Safflower oil is commonly used in cooking to aid in lowering cholesterol.

Safflower seeds yield an oil used in India for burning as well as for culinary purposes.

Dried flowers are used to color food.


No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic dosages.

Not to be used during pregnancy

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