- Safflower is one of the oldest cultivated crops, its use dating back to ancient Egypt.
- Safflower seeds and packets, and garlands of florets were widely found in mummies across ancient Egypt. (40)
Kasubha is an erect, branched, smooth herb, 30 to 90 centimeters high. Leaves are stalkless, half-clasping, lanceolate, 5 to 10 centimeters long, 1 to 2.5 centimeters wide, but smaller toward the top, with margins minutely spiny toothed. Flowering heads are large, surrounded by a cluster of leafy bracts which gradually become the bracts of the involucre, 2.5 to 4 centimeters across. Flowers are orange-red. The achenes, often deformed, are obovoid, usually 4-ribbed and truncate at the top. Pappus is absent or scalelike.
- Planted here and there for dyeing purposes.
- Native of Egypt.
- More than 200 compounds have been isolated from C. tinctorius; commonly known ones are flavonoids, phenylethanoid glycosides, coumarins, fatty acids, steroids, and polysaccharides.
Analysis of safflower seeds yielded crude protein in range of 14.9 ti 17%, total sugar 3.2 to 9.2%, and extractable lipids from 25 to 40%.
Seed oil, similar to olive oil, yielded linoleic acid 63-72%, oleic acid 16-25%, and linolenic acid 1-6%. (41)
Flowers yield a coloring principle, carthamin.
- Seeds contain a fixed oil, 28.7%; proteins, 14.11%; cellulose, 30.6%.
- Flowers yielded eight compounds: palmitic acid, 1-O-hexadecanolenin, trans-3-tridecene-5,7,9,11-tetrayne-1,2-diol, trans-trans-3,11-tridecadiene -5,7,9-triyne -1,2-diol, coumaric acid, daucosterol, apigenin and kaempferol.(16)
- Flower petals have yielded carthamin, safflor yellows A and B, Safflormin A and C, isocarthamin, isocarthamidin, hydroxysafflor yellow A. A water fraction yielded four compounds, viz., 6-hydroxykaempferol 3-O-glucoside (1), 6-hydroxykaempferol 7-O-glucoside (2, a new compound), kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside (3) and quercetin 3-O-glucoside (4). (20)
- Study isolated a new phenylpropanoid derivative, carthamusin A [2-hydroxy-1-(3-hydroxy-3-(2-(2-methoxy-2-oxoethyl) phenyl) propanoyloxy) pentan-3-yl benzoate],
along with two known compounds ß-daucosterol and stigmasterol. (34)
- Safflower oil has high nutritional value, with 70% polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid), 10$ monosaturated oleic acid,
and small amounts of stearic acid. (40)
- Hydrodistillation study of flowers for volatile oil yielded 20 compounds with 0.175% oil (v/w) representing 99.81% of the oil. Oil was rich in undecanoic acid, octane, 2-nonen-1-ol, hexadecanal, dodecanal, dec-2-en-1-ol, nonanoic acid, tetradecanoic acid, 2 pentadecanone, 6,10,14-trimethyl, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, isobutyl-beta-phenylpropionate, 1,3-cyclohexadiene, myrtenoic acid, octadecanoic acid, heneicosanoic acid, 293H)-furanone, 4,4-dipropylheptane, hexcosane, 1-eicosanol, and heptocosane.
- Study of leaves for alkaloid content yielded a new β-carboline alkaloid, 4,9-dimethoxy-1-ethyl-β-carboline (1) along with one known analogue 4-methoxy-1-ethyl-β-carboline (2). (see study below) (52)
- Considered tonic, laxative, purgative, analgesic, antipyretic, diaphoretic, abortifacient.
- Seeds and oil considered purgative and laxative.
- Flowers considered tonic and emmenagogue.
Studies have suggested cardioprotective, renoprotective, anti-estrogenic, antiatherosclerotic, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, antioxidant, antitumor, neuroprotective, hypotensive, antiulcer, hypolipidemic, hair-promoting, analgesic, immunomodulatory properties.
Flowers, seeds, oil.
- Dye from flowers used as substitute for saffron, for coloring food. Not valued as a spice.
- Oil from the seeds is a valuable and edible oil.
- in wide regions of Iran, consumed raw. (40)
- In China, young shoots eaten in time of scarcity.
- Dye used in Italian, French, and British cuisine as flavoring and coloring. (40)
- Used in traditional medicine for treatment of dysmenorrhea, amenorrhea postpartum abdominal pains, trauma and joint pains. (40) Also used as purgative, analgesic, antipyretic, and antidote to poisoning. (41)
Hot infusion of dried flowers used as a diaphoretic in jaundice, nasal catarrh and muscular rheumatism.
- Cold infusion used as a laxative and tonic in measles and scarlatina to favor efflorescence of eruptions.
- In Indochina, flowers are given for dysmenorrhea and paralysis, as tonic and emmenagogue.
- In China, plant is used as abortifacient and to expel retained placenta.
- Plant boiled in sesamum oil is used as remedy for itches.
- Medicated oil prepared from the plant used as external application for rheumatism and paralysis.
- Flowers used for hair growth.
- In Punjab, seeds used as diuretic and tonic.
- In Thailand used as herbal tea to reduce cholesterol and prevent atherosclerosis.
- In Korea, seeds used as folk medicine to enhance bone formation or prevent osteoporosis.
- In Iranian folk medicine used for various applications due to its laxative effects. Also used for rheumatism, paralysis, vitiligo, black spots, psoriasis, mouth ulcers, poisoning, melancholy, among others. (40)
In Indian traditional medicine, used for treatment of scabies, arthritis, and mastalgia. (40)
- In Persian folk medicine, used for treatment of diabetes, phlegmatic fever, melancholia and dropsy.(40)
- Dye: Dye is impermanent; colors silk a brilliant scarlet, but is not permanent. Used in the preparation of toilet rouges. for which it is mixed with powdered talc. (•) Safflower dyes were important for the carpet-weaving industries in Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Indian subcontinent. (40)
- Florets: Applied as dye, coloring, flavoring, rouge, potion, and unguent. (40)
- Oil: Oil from the seed used in making soap and candles; also used as lubricant and in candle-making.
- Ice cream pigment: The addition of carthamidin (0.06 mL) in ice cream scored higher overall acceptability. (26)
- Cosmetics: Safflower oil, rich in essential omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid is included in skin care products and bath oils. (31) In Thailand aqueous extract of flowers largely used as hair color promoter. (40)
• Cardioprotective Against LPS-Induced Apoptosis: Study showed Carthamus tinctorius possesses the ability to suppress JNK activity and inhibit LPS-induced TNF-a activation and apoptosis in H9c2 cardiomyoblast cells. CT can potentially cardioprotective against LPS-induced apoptosis. (1)
• Cardioprotective / Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury: Study showed Carthamus tinctorius extract could protect myocardium damage induced by I/R injury. The mechanism of cardioprotection may be associated with inhibition of apoptosis of myocardium, upregulating protein expression of Bcl-2 gene and downregulated protein expression of Bax gene. (7)
• Renoprotective: Study showed injection of safflor significantly reduced the renal dysfunction and injury caused by I/R (ischemia/reperfusion) of the kidney, effected probably due to inhibition of cell apoptosis and caspase-3 gene expression.
• Tracheloside / Anti-Estrogenic Lignan Glycoside: Tracheloside, isolated from the seeds of CT significantly decreased the activity of alkaline phosphatase, an estrogen-inducible marker enzyme, against cultured ishikawa cells, at a level of inhibition comparable to tamoxifen.
• Neuroprotective: Study showed HSYA (hydroxysafflor yellow A) dose-dependently improved the neurological deficit scores and reduced the cerebral infarct area in a potency similar to the therapeutic effects of nimodipine on cerebral ischemia.
• Antioxidant / Safflor Yellow: Study showed SY is an antioxidatve part of Carthamus tinctorius.
• Polyphenols / Lipid Benefits: Study showed safflower polyphenols improved blood lipids by increasing the HDL-cholesterol formation and cholesterol excretion without significant uterotropic action in estrogen-deficient animals.
• Flavanoids / Antioxidants: Study isolated eight flavonoids. Luteolin-acetyl-glucoside and quercetin-acetyl-glucoside showed potent antioxidative activities.
• Teratogenic and Cytotoxic Effects of Safflower Extract / Coloring and Flavoring Use: Study showed that in higher doses, changes in cellular orientation and cellular degeneration were observed. also, cytotoxic assay demonstrated a concentration-dependent cytotoxic effect of the carthami flos extract. It suggests reconsideration of use as food additive.
• Hypotensive Effect: Study using SY, a mixture of chalconoid compounds extracted from CT lowered the blood pressure of spontaneously hypertensive rats. Results suggest the decrease to be mediated by the renin-angiotensin system.
• Breast Cancer Inhibitory Effect: The compound Zhyu-xiang, derived from extracts containing ginseng and carthamus tinctorius, was studied on treatment of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell and human mammary gland cell lines. Zhu-xiang showed significant dose-dependent inhibition in cell proliferation, greater than that of commonly used cytotoxic drugs. The inhibitory effect was due to induction of apoptosis, both time- and concentration-dependent. Results suggest Zhu-xiang could be a useful anticancer compound against breast cancer.
• Immunomodulatory / Antitumor Activity: Study showed the Carthamus tinctorius could promote immunity through the activation of DCs per se.
• Analgesic Activity: Study showed CF oil extracted from safflower seeds is a natural local anesthetic with moderate analgesic activity mediated through influences on the serotoninergic and monoaminergic pathways. It has a potential to occupy a leading place among local anesthetics used in traditional medicine, acupuncture, and medical massage. (4)
• Quinochalcones / Anti-Inflammatory: Study isolated two new quinochalcone compounds - saffloquinoside A and saffloquinoside B - from the florets of C tinctorius. Saffloquinoside A exhibited middling anti-inflammatory activity. (5)
• Bone Formation Benefits: Study in Sprague-Dawley rats showed a significant increase of osteoblast markers - osteocalcin and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase. The effect appears likely to be mediated by IGF-I at the early stages of treatment. (6)
• Antioxidant / Radical Scavenging: Study of crude extract showed antioxidant activities in various assays: DPPH scavenging, ABTS+ radical scavenging and superoxide anion radical scavenging. (9)
• Antidiabetic / Hypolipidemic: Study of a hydroalcoholic extract in diabetic male Wistar rats showed decreases in FBS, triglycerides, LDL and VLDL. Blood sugar lowering effect was comparable to glibenclamide. Histological study showed the size of islets of Langerhans significantly enlarged. The extract showed no toxicity as suggested by normal levels of AST, ALT, ALP. (10)
• Antitumor: Study evaluated the antitumor activity of CT extract on dendritic cell (DC)-based vaccine in cancer treatment. Results showed a dose-dependent dramatic increase of the levels of TNF-a and IL-1ß, with more immunologic and co-stimulatory molecules expressed on the DC surface. (11)
• Hepatoprotective: Study of a methanolic extract showed a hepatoprotective (antioxidant and anti-inflammatory) effect against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats as evidenced by biochemical parameters and histopathological findings. (12)
• Hypolipidemic / Effects on Gene Expression: Study evaluated the hypolipidemic effect of various fractionation of crude extract. Results showed the dichlormethane extract to reduce the total cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol of hyperlipidemic rats. The results may partly be due to a decrease in the HDL-cholesterol and gene encoding enzymes of the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway. (13)
• Antiulcer: Study showed an extract from Ct showed an antiulcerogenic effect, which may be due to its calcium channel blocking activity. (15)
• Hair-Promoting Growth: Study examined the potential of hydroxysafflor yellow A-rich C. tinctorius extract on hair growth in vitro and in vivo. C. tinctorius floret ethanolic extract promoted the proliferation of both dermal papilla cells and HaCaT and significantly stimulated hair growth-promoting genes. It suppressed expression of transforming factor ß-1, the hair loss-related gene. Results suggest a potential for use as a hair-growth promoting agent. (17)
• Anti-Inflammatory / Heme Oxygenase-1 Induction: Heme oxygenases (HO) are cytoprotective enzymes that degrade heme, generating CO, bilirubin, and ferrous iron, products with antioxidant, antiapoptotic, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory actions. Study evaluated methanol exhibited anti-inflammatory action , probably through induction of HO-1 expression via Nrf2 translocation and inhibition of NF-kB activity. (18)
• Stimulation of Melanogenesis / Gray Hair Treatment: Study evaluated the effect of Carthamus tinctorius floret ethanolic extract on melanogenesis in murine melanoma cells. Results showed the CTE can stimulate melanogenesis at the transcriptional levels without cytotoxicity, with a potential as a gray hair treatment product. (19)
• Female Reproductive Concerns: Study evaluated the possible effects of C. tinctorius on ovarian histomorphology and levels of female reproductive hormones in mice. Treatment with extracts showed detrimental effects with reduction in the number of ovarian follicles with an increase in atretic follicles, together with decrease in blood levels of FSH and estrogen. (22)
• Antidiabetic: Study evaluated the effect of C. tinctorius on fasting blood glucose and insulin levels in alloxan induced diabetic rabbits. Results showed significant hypoglycemic effect together with significantly increased insulin levels in extract treated and glibenclamide treated groups as compared to diabetic control. (23)
• Drug Interactions with Anticoagulants and Anti-Platelet Drugs: Large amounts of safflower can slow blood clotting. Medications that slow blood clotting (anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs) can interact with safflower and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. Some of the medicines that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, enoxaparin, heparin warfarin, among others. (25)
• Quinochalcone C-Glycosides / HSYA / Biologic Activities / Florets: Study reports on the chemical and biologic properties of quinochalcone C-glycosides, major ingredients in the florets of C. tinctorius. The main active component of safflower yellow (SY) is HSYA (hydroxysafflor yellow A). Review presents its various biologic activities viz., anticoagulant, cardioprotective, CNS, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, antihypertensive, and anti-tumor effects. C-glycosides have strong commercial value as cost-effective colorants used in juices, yoghurt, gelatin desserts and candies to make them more appealing. (27)
• Safety Profile in Lactation / Brain, Renal, and Hepatic Toxicity / Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation: Study evaluated the possible effects of C. tinctorius during lactation on brain, liver, kidney, and hematologic parameters of newborn mice. In histopathological studies, mild to severe injuries were observed in the kidney, liver, and brain tissues. Results suggest the use of safflower extract during lactation is toxic and advises the avoidance of its use during pregnancy and lactation. (28)
• Hepatoprotective / Hypolipidemic in Diabetic Rats / Seed Oil: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective and hypolipidemic effects of Carthamus tinctorius seed oil in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Treatment with seed oil decreased the levels of blood glucose, TC, TGs, LDL, ALT, AST. and ALP while increasing HDL. Results suggest the use of safflower seed oil may be beneficial in preventing diabetic complications. (29)
• Acute and Subchronic Toxicity: Study evaluated the toxic and direct teratogenic potential of two dominant iranian cultivars of C. tinctorius (safflower) floret extracts (IL 111 and LRV 51 51) commonly used in food and medicinal products. No deaths or alteration of stereotype activities were observed. In cytotoxicity evaluation, results suggested no remarkable level of teratogenicity. (30)
Effects on Placental Histomorphology and Neonate Survival / Toxicity Study: Study evaluated the effects of C. tinctorius extracts on placental histomorphology and survival of mice neonates. Results showed toxic changes in the placental structure. Advice of caution was given on consumption of the plant as alternative food or food additive. (32)
• Antithrombotic Effects: Study evaluated the effects of C. tinctorius extracts on thrombosis in rats. All test doses of CTL extracts significantly and dose-dependently prolonged thrombosis occlusion time, reduced the weight of the thrombus and increased inhibition rate (p<0.01). Studies are suggested to determine clinical potential. (33) Study evaluated the anti-thrombosis activity of C. tinctorius in rats with induced thrombus. Results showed prolongation of venous occlusion time with dose-dependent reduction in arterial and venous thrombus weights. TXB2 decreased while 6-keto-PGF1a increased. (56)
• Steroidal and Metabolic Effect: Study evaluated the steroidal and metabolic activity of hydroalcoholic extract of seeds of C. tinctorius in albino rats. Results showed significant (p<0.01) reduction of thymus weight together with hyperproteinemic, hypocholesterolemic and liver glycogen increasing effect with moderate increase in blood glucose level. Results suggest marked steroids and metabolic effect. The steroidal effect may be the basis for its use in nephrotic type kidney diseases, (35)
• Effect on Semen Quality
and Gonadal Hormone Levels: Study evaluated the effects of C. tinctorius on spermatogenesis in a male rat model of partial infertility. Results showed a significant increase in sperm of good morphology and motility together with significant increase in count and positive effect on hormonal changes and genital organ weights. (36)
• Inhibition of Proliferation and Metastasis of MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cell: Study investigated the effects of safflower polysaccharide on the proliferation and metastasis of breast cancer cells. Results showed the polysaccharide compound significantly inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 breast cancer cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The SPS induced cell apoptosis. Further study on underlying mechanisms may provide novel strategies in breast cancer therapy. (37)
• Depigmenting Effect / Seed: Study evaluated the skin depigmentation effect of extracts of three herbs viz., C. tinctorius seed, Cyperus rotundus and Schizonpeta tenuifolia. Results showed C. tinctorius seed extracts reduced tyrosinase activity and melanin formation of B16F10 melanoma cells. The underlying mechanism for its whitening activity may be the inhibition of tyrisinase, MITF, tyrosinase, TRP-1 and TRP-2 expression. Results suggest a potential as natural function ingredient with a depigmentation effect. (38)
• Antifungal / Aspergillus flavus: Study evaluated various extracts of medicinal herbs (thyme, senna, mentha, basil, safflower) on the growth of A. flavus, one of the major fungal challenges in agriculture and food industry. While all concentrations of the plant extracts significantly inhibited the fungus growth, the extracts of thyme and safflower manifested the most effective prohibition compared to benomyl with MIC of 200 and 400 µg/mL, respectively. (39)
• Serotonin Derivatives / Antioxidant / LDL-Lowering / Anti-Atherosclerotic: Study evaluated the effect of defatted safflower seed extract and its phenolic constituents and serotonin derivatives on atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Ethanol-EA extract of seeds inhibited LDL oxidation induced in vitro. Study identified two serotonin derivatives [N-(p-coumaroyl}serotonin, CS; N-feruloylserotonin, FS] and their glucosides as major phenolic constituents of the extract. Results suggest that serotonin derivatives of SSE are absorbed in circulation and attenuate atherosclerotic lesion development via inhibition of oxidized LDL formation through their strong antioxidative activity. (43)
• Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Anti-Inflammatory / Anticancer / Flowers: Study evaluated the antioxidant (ABTS radical scavenging and ß-carotene inhibition tests), antibacterial (against human pathogenic strains), anti-inflammatory (inhibition of NO release in LPS-stimulated raw 264.7 macrophages) and anticancer activities (human lung carcinoma A-549 and human colorectal adenocarcinoma DLD-1) of methanolic flower extract to validate its ethnopharmaceutical claims. Results showed inhibition of ABTS and ß-carotene assay, 100% inhibition against M. luteus strains, 80% inhibition of NO release at 160 µg/ml, and anticancer activity against tumor cell lines DLD-1 with IC50 of 72 ± 9µg/ml. (44)
• Safety Assessment of New Pigmented Seed Coat (A82): Study evaluated the safety of a new pigmented variety of safflower (A82) seeds. Oral administration of A82 seeds significantly increased body weight of male rats in a dose dependent manner (p<0.05). No organ weight or histological changes were observed in liver, kidney, spleen, heart and brain of A82 seed treated animals. Results indicate A82 seeds showed no toxicity in Wistar rats. (45)
• Attenuation of Memory Impairment / Seed: Cholinergic dysfunction and oxidative stress are the most common causes of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Study evaluated the protective effects and mechanisms of safflower seed extract in scopolamine-induced memory impairment in a mouse model. Results suggest safflower seed extract improved scopolamine induced memory deficits via inhibition of cholinergic dysfunction and oxidative stress. Results suggest a potential agent for the memory impairment in AD patients. (46)
• Hair Growth Promoting Activity / Nano-Structured Lipid Carriers / Florets: Study aimed to formulate, characterize, and evaluate the hair growth promoting activity of C. tinctorius florets extract loaded nano-structured lipid carriers (NLC) in C57BL/6 Results showed promotion of hair growth in mice better than minoxidil. Safflower yellow, the principle phytochemical in the extract, along with synergism with other phytochemicals may account for the hair growth promoting activity. (47)
• Comparative Stability / Carthamin and Safflower Yellow Pigments / Florets: Safflower florets contain edible carthamin and safflower yellow dyes, natural pigments have medicinal properties. Study evaluated the external factors influencing the chemical nature of carthamin and safflower yellow in measures of pH, temperature and light. Results showed safflower yellow is more stable than carthamin in temperature and pH treatment, but carthamin is more stable in light treatment. Of note, most synthetic pigments have carcinogenic properties, while natural pigments have biologic values and can be natural components of food products. (48)
• Effect of Jasmonic Acid on Safflower under Water Deficient State: Study evaluated the role of jasmonic acid in protecting safflower against drought damages. Application of jasmonic acid can mitigate the adverse effect of drought stress o various measured attributes. It can increase safflower ability to cope with drought stress through improvement of antioxidant enzymes and enhancement of secondary metabolites. (50)
• Antianxiety / Antidepressant / Petals: Study evaluated the antianxiety and antidepressant effect of C. tinctorius petal extract in white albino rats. Using elevated plus maze and forced swim tests, C. tinctorius showed highly significant anxiolytic and antidepressant effects, similar to standard drugs diazepam and nortriptyline. Results suggest potential as alternative therapeutic agents for treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders. (51)
• Alkaloid / Cytotoxicity against HepG2 Cell Line / Leaves: Study of leaves for alkaloid content yielded a new β-carboline alkaloid, 4,9-dimethoxy-1-ethyl-β-carboline (1) along with one known analogue 4-methoxy-1-ethyl-β-carboline (2). Compounds 1 and 2 exhibited cytotoxicity against HepG2 cell lines with IC50 values of 15.20 ± o.58 µmol/L and 17.40 ± 0.33 µmol/L, respectively. (52)
• Potential Source of Drugs Against Cryptococcal, Malarial and Leishmanial Infections / Dried Flowers: Study of volatile oil of Carthamus tinctorius dried flowers yielded eight known and three unknown compounds. An ointment formulation of the volatile oil exhibited activity against Cryptococcus neoformans, Plasmodium falcifarum, and Leishmania donovani. The ointment showed an excellent acute toxicity safety profile. (53)
• Effect on Platelet Activating Factor / Cardioprotective: Study detected platelet aggregation and 5-HT release by washed platelet from coronary heart disease patients following platelet activating factor (PAF) treatment. Safflower yellow was found to inhibit the PAF-induced washed platelet aggregation and 5-HT release by platelets and elevation of free calcium in platelets, and thus, suggests cardioprotective effect. (54)
• No Liver and Renal Effects / Seed: Study investigated the possible toxicological effects of black coat seed of a new pigmented variety of safflower on liver and kidney tissues of male wistar rats. Results showed that safflower seed especially black ones, has not toxic effects on liver and kidney tissues. The positive effects of black seed on body weight of wistar rats may be an interesting effect to possibly exploit in the poultry industry. (55)
Oil, seeds, supplements in the cybermarket.