Safflower is a plant. The flower and oil from the seeds are used as medicine.
Safflower seed oil is taken by mouth for diabetes, preventing heart disease, including “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) and stroke. It is also used to increase hair growth, treat fever, tumors, coughs, breathing problems, clotting conditions, pain, coronary heart disease, chest pain, and traumatic injuries. Some people use it for inducing sweating; and as a laxative, stimulant, antiperspirant, and expectorant to help loosen phlegm.
Safflower yellow, a component of safflower flower, is injected into the vein for chest pain (angina pectoris) and a type of stroke that is caused by a clot (ischemic stroke).
In foods, safflower seed oil is used as cooking oil.
In manufacturing, safflower flower is used to color cosmetics and dye fabrics. Safflower seed oil is used as a paint solvent.
The linolenic and linoleic acids in safflower seed oil might help prevent “hardening of the arteries,” lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Safflower contains chemicals that may thin the blood to prevent clots, widen blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and stimulate the heart.
High cholesterol. Some research shows that taking safflower oil as a dietary supplement or substituting it for other oils in the diet helps lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol. However, it does not seem to lower other blood fats called triglycerides or raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol.
Possibly Ineffective for
Low birth weight. Some research suggests that adding a safflower oil product to infant formula or breast milk does not improve weight gain or skin thickness in low birth weight infants.
Insufficient Evidence for
Chest pain (angina pectoris). Early research shows that giving safflower yellow, a component of safflower flower, by IV along with standard medicine for chest pain slightly improves symptoms in Chinese people with chest pain.
Cystic fibrosis. Early research shows that taking safflower oil by mouth for one year does not improve test markers or severity of cystic fibrosis in children.
Diabetes. Early research shows that taking safflower oil by mouth for 3 weeks can increase blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. But other research shows that taking safflower oil by mouth for 16 weeks decreases hemoglobinA1c without affecting fasting blood sugar levels in postmenopausal women with diabetes. Safflower oil does not seem to affect insulin levels or insulin sensitivity.
High cholesterol that is passed down through families (familial hypercholesterolemia). Evidence about the effects of safflower oil in treating high cholesterol that is passed down through families is conflicting. Some early research suggests that replacing dietary butter with safflower oil decreases “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in people with this condition. Other research shows no beneficial effects.
Hepatitis C. Early research suggests that taking a specific product containing safflower, pumpkin seeds, plantain seeds, and Japanese honeysuckle (EH0202) by mouth for 3 months reduces general discomfort, bloating, nausea, and vomiting in people with hepatitis C. However, the amount of hepatitis C virus present in the body does not appear to be affected.
High blood pressure (hypertension). Evidence about the effects of safflower oil on blood pressure is conflicting. Some early research suggests that taking safflower oil by mouth for 6-8 weeks lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, other evidence suggests safflower oil is not effective for lowering blood pressure.
Stroke that is caused by a clot (ischemic stroke). Early research shows that giving safflower yellow, a component of safflower flower, by IV within 72 hours of having a stroke and continuing once daily for 2 weeks increases the chance of improved brain function when used with standard medicine for stroke.
A scaly skin condition (phrynoderma). Early research suggests that taking safflower oil containing vitamin E and linoleic acid by mouth for more than 8 weeks can improve skin dryness and roughness in people with phrynoderma.
Blood circulation disorders.
Breathing problems (conditions that affect the breathing tubes called bronchial tubes).