The use of the Safflower herb has long been acknowledged by traditional Chinese and native American herbal medicine practitioners. The herbs are thought to help certain cardiovascular conditions, as well as ailments in the respiratory and digestive systems.
Safflower is a thistle-like annual herb that has numerous long sharp spines on its leaves. Belonging to the same family as the sunflower, safflower can grow up to 30 to 150 centimeters tall and has globular flower heads. Its flowers are colored yellow, orange or red. The safflower plant has strong roots that enable it to thrive in dry climates.
It is widely thought to be native to Iran, northwestern India and Africa. Presently, safflower can be found even in North America and East Asia. The plant typically grows well in open areas and is harvested during the summer.
Nowadays, the safflower plant is primarily grown for the oil content in the seeds, which are used in cooking and cosmetics. It is also used as meals for animals. The ancient peoples cultivated the safflower plant for its flowers that were used as textile dyes.
The beneficial constituents of safflower are usually found in its flower petals, stamen and thread and are usually composed of carthamin, carthamadine, carthamone, lignans and a polysaccharide. These may be derived through safflower tea which is made by infusing a teaspoon of the dried petals in a cup of newly-boiled water for about 5 minutes.
The following are some health benefits attributed to safflower tea:
- Thought to help calm and soothe the nerves.
- May help soothe coughs and bronchial spasms.
- Believed to help lower cholesterol levels.
- May help relieve intestinal disorders and facilitate bowel movement.
- Said to help in alleviating fever.
- When applied topically, may help treat bruises, open wounds, rashes and other skin disorders.
- Claimed to help strengthen the immune system.
- Could have promising prospects in the field of cancer treatment.