Safflower, which is also known as carthamus tinctorius, is a plant that is primarily grown for use as a herbal medication and for food. The plant is native to India, Iran, and North Africa, and it can also be found in other parts of the world, including areas on North America. Safflower grows to be approximately 3-feet (1 meter) tall, and it produces white and red flowers. These plants are generally harvested in the summertime.
There is an oil with many popular uses that can be made from the seeds of safflower. It generally works very well for deep frying, and it is often used in salad dressings because it doesn’t congeal when refrigerated. The oil is frequently used in certain skin products, and it generally works well in this capacity, partly because it has no odor.
Safflower has been used very extensively as a herbal medicine. Some cultures use it to treat fevers and other flu-like symptoms, while others use it as a laxative. In some places, people believe that it can help start menstruation, and some use it for treating skin rashes and burns or cleaning wounds.
The seeds have often been used to feed birds. One of the big advantages of these seeds over other kinds of feed is that only certain birds like them. Most undesirable birds and squirrels will not eat safflower seeds, so they allow people to be more selective about the kinds of birds they attract to their feeders.
In ancient times, the plant was often used to create a red dye. This dye was used as a primitive form of makeup and to change the color of clothing. Even in those times, people also extracted cooking oil from the plant’s seeds, and it was also used as a replacement for the herb saffron in some cooking situations.
There are potential dangers associated with safflower. Some reports indicate that an overdose can cause severe problems in pregnant women or even miscarriage. It has also been blamed for causing a thinning of blood, so people with bleeding conditions like ulcers may wish to avoid it. For this same reason, some experts say it’s not a good idea to mix safflower-based products with blood-thinning medications, because they may work together and cause an extreme reaction.