The safflower plant has been used for many centuries to obtain an attractive red dye (“Spanish red”) which ladies used to make their face more beautiful when pink skin color was in fashion. It has also been used to give some color and fun to poor people’s food as a substitute for saffron.
Safflower Plant Scientific Facts
- Scientific name: Carthamus tinctorius L.
- Other names: False saffron.
- French: Carthame.
- Spanish: Cartamo.
- Environment: Native to the Mediterranean basin, though formerly cultivated all over Europe and America. At present, it grows wild in the areas where it has been introduced.
- Description: Annual plant of the Compositae family, growing up to one meter high, with thorny leaves and flowers with color in between red and yellow.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The flowers and the fruits.
Healing Properties and Indications
The fruit is rich in oil, which is formed by linoleic, oleic, and in a lesser proportion, palmitic and stearic acids. Both the fruit and its oil have a strong purgative effect. Moreover, being rich in unsaturated fatty acids, they decrease the level of cholesterol in the blood.
Because of its strong flavor, safflower oil is currently seldom used. At present, there are other plant oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids; soya oil, corn oil, wheat germ oil, grape seed oil, etc.
How to use Safflower
- Infusion with 60 g of flowers per liter of water. Drink one or two cups daily.
- Oil. A spoonful on an empty stomach has purgative effects.
REFERENCES George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 751. Print. [Safflower plant]