Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Alazor, American Saffron, Bastard Saffron, Benibana, Benibana Oil, Benibana Flower, Cártamo, Carthame, Carthame des Teinturiers, Carthamus tinctorius, Chardon Panaché, Dyer's Saffron, Fake Saffron, False Saffron, Hing Hua, Honghua, Huile de Carthame, Kusumbha, Kusum Phool, Safflower Nut Oil, Safflower Oil, Safran Bâtard, Safranon, Zaffer, Zafran.


Safflower is a plant. The flower and oil from the seeds are used as medicine.

Safflower seed oil is used for preventing heart disease, including “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis) and stroke. It is also used to treat fever, tumors, coughs, breathing problems, clotting conditions, pain, 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.

Women sometimes use safflower oil for absent or painful menstrual periods; they use safflower flower to cause an abortion.

In foods, safflower seed oil is used as a cooking oil.

In manufacturing, safflower flower is used to color cosmetics and dye fabrics. Safflower seed oil is used as a paint solvent.

How does it work?

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.


What is cholesterol? See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • High cholesterol. Some research suggests 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 specific safflower oil product (Safola by Marico Industries Ltd.) to infant formula or breast milk does not improve weight gain or skin thickness in low birth weight infants.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • 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 glucose levels in people with type 2 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 decrease “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. 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 that taking safflower oil is not effective for lowering blood pressure.
  • 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.
  • Fever.
  • Tumors.
  • Coughs.
  • Breathing problems (conditions that affect the breathing tubes called bronchial tubes).
  • Blood circulation disorders.
  • Pain.
  • Menstrual disorders.
  • Chest pain.
  • Traumatic injuries.
  • Constipation.
  • Abortions.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of safflower for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Safflower seed oil is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth.

It is POSSIBLY SAFE to take safflower flower by mouth or to inject a specific safflower oil emulsion (Liposyn) intravenously (by IV), provided the safflower oil emulsion is administered by a healthcare professional.


How to Lower Your Cholesterol & Save Your Heart See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Children: It is POSSIBLY SAFE to inject a specific safflower oil emulsion (Liposyn) intravenously (by IV), provided the safflower oil emulsion is administered to children by a healthcare professional.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Safflower seed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE to take by mouth during pregnancy. But don't take safflower flower during pregnancy. It is LIKELY UNSAFE. It can bring on menstrual periods, make the uterus contract, and cause miscarriages.

There isn't much information about the safety of using safflower seed oil or flower during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding problems (hemorrhagic diseases, stomach or intestinal ulcers, or clotting disorders): Safflower can slow blood clotting. If you have any kind of bleeding problem, don't use safflower.

Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Safflower may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking safflower.

Diabetes: Safflower oil might increase blood sugar. There is concern that safflower oil might interfere with blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

Surgery: Since safflower might slow blood clotting, there is a concern that it could increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using safflower at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Safflower oil might increase blood sugar. Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. By increasing blood sugar, safflower oil might decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Large amounts of safflower might slow blood clotting. Taking safflower along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For high cholesterol: Safflower oil as a dietary supplement.

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