Useful information

Safflower: medicinal properties and uses

Safflower was known in Egypt as early as 3,500 BC and was used to dye linen fabrics that were wrapped around mummies. Rather, not only mummies, it is just these fabrics that have come down to us, which are documentary evidence of its relevance in those distant years. Dioscorides mentions safflower flowers as a laxative in his fundamental work Materia Medica.

Its fatty oil was used as a base for ointments and as a medicinal and dietary remedy. It is known to be grown in China and Japan. Ladies of the Middle East and India used a decoction of the leaves as an abortifacient. And again in India and Pakistan, it has been used in various forms as an aphrodisiac. With the Romans, it ended up in central Europe, where, at least since the 13th century, it was actively used for a variety of purposes: flowers - for coloring dishes and fabrics, fruits - for medicinal purposes and for obtaining fatty oil. But since the 20th century, its importance as a dyeing plant has fallen sharply in connection with the invention of aniline dyes, and only now interest in this direction arises again.

At the moment, as an oilseed crop, it is grown in India, Mexico, the USA, Argentina and Australia, and the crops under it at the beginning of the XXI century amounted to 0.91 million hectares.

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The chemical composition and application of safflower

The content of fatty oil in seeds reaches 40%, and it is characterized by a very high proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (about 75%) and a high content of vitamin E. And the remaining cake contains a lot of protein and can be a good feed for animals. Cartamine is the main coloring pigment in flowers, besides it contains the flavonoids isocartamidine, cardamidine and luteolin. In addition, essential oil was found in the “petals”, the main components of which (except for caryophyllene) are rather specific substances: p-allyltoluene and 1-asetoxytetralin.

Two water-soluble dyes are obtained from the "petals": cardamine - red and cardamidine - yellow. Dyes are extracted from the petals with water and silk, wool and cotton are dyed red, pink or yellow in an alkaline medium. Unfortunately, these dyes are characterized by low lightfastness and quickly fade in the sun, but they are absolutely harmless and can be used for coloring food products, for example, drinks or fruit jelly, as well as cosmetics.

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Due to the high price of saffron, petals are used as a cheaper substitute, and among unscrupulous producers, as a substitute for this spice. Therefore, be careful when buying saffron. Its raw material is pistils, which can be distinguished with the naked eye by their two-lobed shape.

Safflower medicinal properties

Dye safflower is a promising plant for the development of drugs and laboratories of many pharmaceutical companies work with it.

For a long time, various parts of the plant have been used in traditional medicine as a laxative, analgesic, antipyretic and antidote to poisoning. In Chinese medicine, safflower solved painful menstrual problems, was used to stop postpartum bleeding and prevent osteoporosis, especially in menopause. Safflower causes contraction of smooth muscles, including the uterus and intestines, and this is due to its hemostatic effect in the first case and a laxative in the second. And it is because of this property that it is contraindicated in pregnancy. In addition, petal tea has been used for cardiovascular diseases in old age.

Currently, safflower has been found to have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties.Its effectiveness in uterine bleeding, as well as its ability to lower blood pressure, has been confirmed in all laboratory animals, from mice to pigs.

The ability of the drugs to reduce platelet aggregation has been confirmed in vitro and in vivo, and the ability to reduce total cholesterol levels and increase the proportion of high-density lipoproteins, that is, good cholesterol, has also been established. For example, 83% of patients with atherosclerosis decreased blood cholesterol after 6 weeks of taking safflower.

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Contraindications... But safflower has one unpleasant property - it does not combine well with many drugs, and therefore, if a patient is forced to constantly take various pharmaceuticals, one must be very careful with safflower. In particular, it should not be combined with taking anticoagulants and is contraindicated in people prone to bleeding.

It is likely that safflower also has a certain hormonal effect. In China, studies have been conducted on the treatment of infertile men. But the greatest effect was found in infertile women. After treatment with safflower, 56 out of 77 couples acquired offspring.

A good effect from both the decoction of flowers and the use of this decoction externally was obtained in rheumatic diseases, and different in origin - both in metabolic and in rheumatoid arthritis.

Unfortunately, most of this research was carried out in laboratories of various companies, which are not eager to share methods and recipes for use. Therefore, the only, perhaps, quantitative recommendations on the European Internet said that they usually brew 3-9 g of petals in 500 ml of water and this is the daily dose, which is drunk in 3 doses.

Safflower oil for cholesterol

Safflower fatty oil, given the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids, has the ability to reduce the content of harmful cholesterol and is a means of preventing atherosclerosis and hypertension, and, accordingly, strokes and heart attacks.

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Outwardly, poultices and ointments from flowers are used in the treatment of burns, boils, and poorly healing wounds. The oil is a good cosmetic remedy for problem skin and a base for hair care products, especially for weakened, brittle and dry hair. In creams, the oil is used to care for dry and aging skin. And, of course, similar to milk thistle oil, it is useful as salad oil in dietary nutrition.