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SAFFLOWER ( Carthamus tinctorius L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Safflower, Safflor, Bastard saffron
French Carthame, Safran bâtard
German Saflor, Färbersaflor, Färberdistel
Spanish Cártamo, Alazor
Italian Cartamo, Falso zafferano
Turkish Yalancı safran, Papağanyemi, Yerli safran, Kırsafranı
Japanese 紅花 Benibana

FAMILY: Asteraceae

ORIGIN:   : Mediterranea

Safflower (dried flowers)


Safflower plant in flower
GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

Safflower has long, spiny leaves and yellow or reddish flowers on a stiff, upright stem. The seeds produce an edible oil. Safflower grows to a height of about 1 m.

USEFUL PARTS:

Flowers. The flowers can be used fresh or dried

SENSORY PROPERTIES: Very weak, herbaceous.

MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

Safflower flowers contain carthamin, a dye of flavonoid type, but no essential oil.

The plant is widely cultivated for edible oil, which is extracted from the seeds. It contains triglycerides of the doubly unsaturated linoleic acid (70%) and the triply unsaturated linolenic acid (10%); the latter is, together with the comparatively high content of vitamin E (310 ppm), responsible for the good reputation of safflower oil among nutrition scientists. Iodine index is rather high, ranging from 140 to 150.

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:

Safflower is used as food dye, stews and garnishing the foods. Safflower oil is also used for culinary purposes. It is used for colouring and flavouring foods, in medicines, and making red (carthamin) and yellow dyes, especially before cheaper aniline dyes became available. Safflower flowers are also occasionally used in cooking as a cheaper substitute for saffron, and are thus sometimes referred to as "bastard saffron." Safflower seed is also used quite commonly as an alternative to sunflower seed in birdfeeders, as squirrels do not like the taste of it.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

Safflower can be defined as alterative, analgesic, antibacterial, anticholesterolemic, antiphlogistic, antitumor, cardiac, contraceptive, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, febrifuge, laxative, sedative, stimulant, vermifuge.

The flowers of safflower can reduce coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol levels and treats tumours and stomatitis. Safflower is used to treat menstrual pains and other complications by promoting a smooth menstrual flow. The flowers are used as a substitute or adulterant for saffron in treating infants complaints such as measles, fevers and eruptive skin complaints. They are applied to bruising, sprains, skin inflammations externally. The seed is diuretic, purgative and tonic. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and tumours, especially inflammatory tumours of the liver. The oil is charred and used to heal sores and treat rheumatism.

Safflower has been used as a laxative and as a dietary supplement to modify lipid profiles and treat fevers. However, clinical trials are lacking. Safflower blossoms are used in the tea form to treat hysteria, fevers, phlegm, and panic attacks. It is a pretty strong cathartic, and also clears the lungs and helps the phthisis.Safflower can be used to treat irritations and rashes of the skin.Safflower oil helps to reduce cholesterol and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.Safflower can be used to induce a menstrual period and it may help to improve immune system function.

Note: Safflower should not be taken as unpurified oil or flowers during pregnancy.

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Cart_tin.html

http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Carthamnus+tinctorius&CAN=COMIND

http://www.herbsofegypt.com/OrderHerbs/Safflower.htm

http://www.herbco.com/p-407-safflower-cs.aspx

Pictures Source: www.chez-olabi.com/images/Spices/Safflower.jpg