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Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • American saffron, Asteraceae (family), bastard saffron, Carthamus tinctorius, Carthamus tinctorius L., Compositae (family), dyer's saffron, EH0202, fake saffron, false saffron, high oleic acid safflower oil, hing hua, honghua, Intralipid®, kinobeon A, linoleate, linoleic acid, Liposyn®, Liposyn® II, Modified Liposyn®, Microlipid®, monounsaturated fatty acids, MUFA, n-6, n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, n-6 rich vegetable oils, non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA), notoginseny cream, N-(p-coumaroyl) serotonin, oleate, omega 6, polyunsaturated fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids, PSF, PUFA, SAF, safflower injection, safflower meal, safflower oil, safflower oil cake, safflower oil emulsion, safflower oil esters, safflower oil-based lipid emulsion, safflower petals, safflower seeds, safflower yellow, safloroil, Safola®, tocopherols, triglyceride, US, zaffer, zafran.

Background

  • Two parts of the safflower are primarily used: the flower itself and safflower seeds. There are two types of safflower oil with corresponding types of safflower varieties: those high in monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic) and those high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic). Currently, the seed varieties that produce oil high in oleic acid and very low in saturated fatty acids predominate in the United States market. High oleic safflower oil is lower in saturates and higher in monounsaturates than olive oil.
  • In the U.S. diet, safflower oil has been frequently substituted for oils with higher saturated fat content, as monounsaturated fat may have a beneficial effect on the risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Some clinical studies have shown that safflower oil supplementation may be helpful in patients with cystic fibrosis, Friedreich's ataxia, and neurotoxicity from lithium. However, more study is needed in these areas before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, safflower is used to invigorate the blood, dissipate stasis, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), pain, and traumatic injuries. It is also used to "calm" a live fetus and abort a dead fetus, and is therefore used cautiously during pregnancy.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.