Safflower Oil: Benefits and Side Effects

safflower-Carthamus-tinctorius
safflower-Carthamus-tinctorius

Our lifestyle got to the point we no longer have time take proper care of our health and wellbeing. We spend most of the day at work or school trying to meet deadlines, so we prefer fast solutions for any other activity. Eating the right foods has become one of the biggest challenges of the daily routine, and to keep a healthy body we must make sure to include some natural sources of vitamins and nutrients to the diet and the oil obtained from the safflower plant seems to be one of the best options.

What is safflower?

safflower plant

Carthamus tinctorius is commonly known as safflower. This thistle-like annual plant has broad leaves, high branches and with a height that ranges between 30 cm and 150 cm. On each branch, there are up to five round flowers of yellow, orange or even red color with 15 to 20 seeds per unit. Safflower prefers dry and arid areas because its deep taproot ensures its growth in this type of environment. Large crops of safflower are cultivated in various parts of the world for extracting oil from its seeds and it plays an essential economic role in countries like Kazakhstan,  which alone covered in 2013 almost 24% of the world’s safflower production. Mexico, Australia, India, China, Argentina, or Ethiopia also have a significant contribution to this industry.

The use of this plant for various medical or even industrial purposes dates as far back as ancient Egypt.  One of its main uses back then was for making dyes for clothes and even garlands of this flower were found in the Tutankhamun‘s tomb. Safflower appears mentioned in documents dated all the way back to 3500 BC under different names like “kusumba” or “hong hua”. The name of safflower which we use nowadays it is believed to be derived from the medieval French “saffleur” or its Italian version “saffiore”. In was only in 1950’s when safflower started gaining popularity in the USA, more specifically in Arizona, California, and Nebraska. Due to its similar properties to saffron, this plant has now various names suggesting the resemblance between them such as false saffron,  American saffron, bastard saffron dyer’s saffron, zafran, and Gami Honghwain.

Different uses of safflower

Throughout history, safflower proved to be a very useful and versatile plant. Traditionally, it was grown for its seeds, and they were used for medical purposes and for obtaining red and yellow dyes for textiles or foods. For obtaining the yellow dye, the safflowers are soaked in mild vinegar overnight. These flowers are then rinsed and used for making the red dye, by being soaked again but this time into an alkaline solution obtained from mixing washing soda and ammonia. Finally, vinegar is added to bring out the red pigment from the safflower. In the past decades, the main purpose for growing large crops of safflower was the oil extraction.

The safflower seed oil has a similar nutritional composition to the sunflower oil. Because it is both colorless and flavorless it is often used for cooking at low temperatures or in the cosmetic industry. There are two types of safflower used to obtain different types of oil: monounsaturated fatty acid and polyunsaturated fatty acid. Even if these two oils are obtained from the same plant they have different properties.

Since the ancient times, safflower oil was used as a cure for constipation due to its laxative properties. The safflower oil is also included in various

dietary supplements. Safflower oil is part of many medical and scientific studies for years and even if the conclusions are not final yet, there is enough evidence to support the idea that this plant can have a positive impact on the health when it comes to improving medical conditions like diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disorders and even cancer. This plant brings other benefits for the health and the easiest way to include it in the daily diet is as a tea enjoyed with a healthy meal.

There are also other ways to use safflower, but they are not as popular. For example, some people feed their backyard birds with safflower seeds. Certain species like titmice, nuthatch, or rose-breasted grosbeaks like them a lot. Also, sheep and cattle eat these seeds, and if the frost hits your crops, you can transform safflower into hay for horses.

Safflower oil is the most popular product obtained from this plant, and it has a wide variety of uses, but the rest of the plant can be used for different purposes. Here are some possible ways of using safflower oil in the daily routine without making drastic changes:

  • It is an important ingredient in the margarine’s formula
  • It can be used for cooking at low temperatures, and it is a great addition to any salad
  • It is a less harsh solvent for paints for making them thinner or for softening the colors or
  • It’s currently being used in the cosmetic industry as a dye or in the composition of topical products like shampoos, conditioners or lip balms
  • Used as a natural dietary supplement for improving various medical conditions
  • The flowers represent a less expensive replacement of saffron
  • It can be used as massage oil, and it leaves a moisturized and glowing skin
  • The oil is an effective remedy for various skin conditions, and it reduces acne and wrinkles, it moisturizes the skin and improves its overall quality

The rest of the plant is just as useful, and there are simple methods of enjoying their benefits as well:

  • Dry safflower can be used as medicine for relieving menstrual pain and improve bold circulation
  • Safflower tea is a traditional cure for colds, fevers, and coughs
  • Dry safflower stalks can be transformed into paper or fuel
  • Some people eat the leaves of your safflower plants as vegetables
  • Safflower can be added to some soft drinks and cocktails to make them taste better
  • The flowers are an effective cleanser for open wounds and bruises and help them heal faster
  • Safflower is a remedy for measles
  • Safflowers have beautiful flowers which can become an excellent home decoration

It seems that when it comes to using safflower in the daily life your imagination sets the limit. Throughout time this plant proved it could be a real support for the health and even if the scientific studies are not finished yet, there is no denying that safflower is an essential addition to the daily routine. There is an important list of benefits discovered so far, but there are also some possible unpleasant reactions one might experience. There is still need for further investigation, and the list can be adjusted at any moment, but the findings so far are really encouraging.

What are the health benefits of safflower?

Even if safflower was used in traditional medicine since the ancient times, scientific and medical studies on its properties are in the early stages. Up to this moment, scientists discovered some very interesting and promising benefits of safflower on our health.

  1. Fights obesity

This is the discovery which made the entire world turn its attention on the safflower plant. Obesity is one of the main health problems of our era and finding a natural way to keep the weight under control in an important goal. A recently closed study conducted on mice found evidence which suggests that the chemical composition of safflower oil can help with weight management. The mice were kept on a diet rich in safflower oil, and a weight reduction was noticed along with other important changes in the blood chemistry.

  1. Fights diabetes

Along with obesity, diabetes ranks among the highest dangers for health worldwide. The hectic lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits take a toll on our bodies sooner and harder than expected so if there is an easy to prevent or just keep under control then it is worth a try. Many studies concluded that a regular consumption of safflower oil has a positive influence on both medical conditions. One of the studies was focused on women over 55, diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and who reached menopause. They tested the way safflower oil acts on their condition after 16 weeks of taking daily 8 grams of oil. The blood tests revealed a lower glycemic and lipids level and a reduction of the inflammation in the body.

  1. Fights heart conditions

Another major health problem which affects the lives of millions is the heart disorder. Many people don’t even know they suffer from any cardiovascular problems until things get really bad. Under these circumstances prevention is essential, and now it seems to be possible without the need to make drastic changes in the lifestyle. Studies conducted for finding out the effects of safflower oil on the cardiovascular system came with some encouraging results. When comparing subjects who took safflower oil and those given a placebo there where noticed different results in the evolution of the blood pressure levels and heart rate in favor of those who took safflower oil regularly.

  1. Improves the hair and skin condition

Most people suffer from some sort of skin problems, but not all cosmetic products are as good as advertised. Safflower oil is a natural alternative which proved in clinical trial effective in reducing the symptoms of problems like acne, dehydration or rashes. Safflower oil prevents the formation of blackheads, and the oleic acid stimulates the regeneration of hair follicles making the hair shinier and stronger.

  1. Reduces the PMS

During this time there are a lot of hormonal changes in the body, but some studies were interested in finding out how safflower oil can influence the body’s chemistry and found some hard to ignore connections. The linoleic acid in this oil has the potential to influence the activity of the prostaglandins in the body and reduce the hormonal fluctuations.

  1. Antioxidant properties

In order to prevent many diseases, it is important to have in the daily diet a natural source of antioxidants because they fight the negative effects of free radicals we meet constantly and which can get us sick. Safflower oil contains serotonin which is a powerful antioxidant, and there are studies that concluded it could increase the productivity of fibroblasts both in vitro and in humans which can inhibit the inflammatory effects of free radicals.

These are some of the most important benefits safflowers can bring for the health. Of course, there are many others yet to be discovered, but it seems like it is a positive addition to the diet.

What are there any side effects of safflower?

Clinical trials still have to discover more benefits and potential side effects of safflower on the humans’ health, but so far it seems to be safe to take by healthy individuals who want to prevent various problems. Some studies say it is not safe to be taken by pregnant women because it could cause a miscarriage. If you suffer from blood clotting problems, it is better to obtain the doctor’s approval before starting the treatment because it influences the cardiovascular system. There is also a bit of controversy when it comes to safflower’s potential to influence the blood sugar levels. While some studies say it reduced the glycemic level, others suggest it might increase it. Eighter way, if you are diagnosed with diabetes, you should ask your doctor about changing the treatment.

Grow your own safflower

Are you impressed of what safflower can do for health and you want your own stash of this plant? Well, you can grow it in your garden. You don’t need industrial amounts just a few plants are enough to make your tea or oil. You can find various recipes for making your safflower oil and make sure you use only natural and organic ingredients.

The first step is to make sure the soil and the environment are right for this plant; otherwise, it won’t survive. Safflower loves hot weather and dry soil. If your garden checks these conditions, you should place your crop away from the footsteps of your family and friends because the grown plant has spines which might sting. The seeds should be planted at about 2 to 4 cm deep and 15 to 20 cm apart. Make sure the soil stays moist for up to 24 days until the seeds germinate and then reduce the watering to moderate amounts. It takes about 12 weeks for the plant to fully grow and be harvested. If you want to plant it again make sure to save some of the seeds.

How can CLA Safflower Oil improve the health?

This product is a relatively new addition to the dietary supplements market, and it promises to help its users lose weight without having to keep a diet or work out. It is available for purchase in the form of gel capsules, and it was launched at the beginning of 2016. The label doesn’t mention the name of the manufacturer but reading carefully the available information on the official website we can assume it is produced on the US soil because it claims to use an FDA approved lab. As the name suggests, this product is based on safflower oil which proved during clinical trials to have the potential to block the formation of new fat layers and reduce the appetite. CLA stands for Conjugated Linoleic Acid and combined with safflower oil created a miraculous pill, which keeps the weight under control. According to the manufacturer, this supplement is made from organic and natural ingredients, and they approach the weight management from three different angles: it suppresses the appetite, prevents the formation of new fat layers and increases the serotonin levels.

The official website of the product doesn’t present any medical studies conducted on CLA Safflower Oil which supports its claims, but there are several trials made on its made active ingredients which reached official conclusions. For example studies regarding the way, safflower oil works to influence the weight loss concluded that one tablespoon of this oil is enough to make you feel full for a while so you won’t feel the need to eat anymore. This dosage contains about 120 calories and high levels of healthy fats, so even if this way you control the eating impulses it is important not to exaggerate because safflower oil, just like any other oil, is actually fat and instead of losing weight you will add it.

Experts estimate that if a woman wants to lose weight, it needs to take four tablespoons of safflower oil each day, while men need 5 to obtain the same result. This is the equivalent of 17 and 22 grams of oil. On further research, we can find other ingredients listed such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Oat bran, Black nut hull, Apple pectin, Flaxseed, Papaya Leaf Extract, Prune extract and Aloe vera. All of them are natural, and they were chosen for their proven properties in helping the body burn out fat faster while increasing the energy level, without causing side-effects. The manufacturer is keeping the formula secret as it is a proprietary blend and there is no way of knowing for sure the exact amount of each ingredient. On the terms and conditions section of the web page, you can read a note about the ingredients, but there is nothing mentioned about the additives. If you are a vegetarian, you should consider that the gel capsule formula usually includes ingredients of animal origin. Unless the manufacturer discloses more information about this aspect, there is no way of knowing if the product is fit for the vegan diet.

CLA Safflower Oil is sold exclusively through the official website because it has a special payment system and those interested in purchasing must read all the details regarding the transaction. The manufacturer uses a rebates system to sell this product, and this means that on the first purchase you will pay more than it is listed on the web page. Later you must check the email for a message from the manufacturer and reply in order to obtain a refund on the difference. Many customers complain about this purchase system, so make sure you read all the fine printing before submitting your credit card information. There is also a 30-day money back guarantee, but you will have to pay the shipping and other fees.

Final Precautions

We all want to be healthier and look better just by taking a miraculous pill, but the reality is that without a proper diet and constant workout this wish will not come true. It is important to add natural sources of vitamins and nutrients to our daily routine and safflower seems to offer all that, but it is hard to believe everything that is advertised. Losing weight just by taking one pill a day, as the mysterious manufacturer of CLA Safflower Oil promises, without adjusting the lifestyle it is not easy to believe. Still, there may be some truth to these claims as the main ingredients of this dietary supplement have the potential to influence the weight, and there is some scientific proof for that.

A simple pill will not improve your life overnight and getting results require a lot of patience and determination. CLA Safflower Oil might be efficient in some cases and ineffective in others, but either way, the manufacturer loses points on trust due to its hidden identity and its mysterious list of ingredients. Also, the complicated purchasing system makes most people feel like being robbed and discourages a second purchase.

Safflower oil is a recent subject of medical trials, and its full list of benefits and side effects can be modified at any given point, but so far it seems to bring some important improvements for health and almost no unpleasant reactions. Dietary supplements manufacturers started to include this substance in their product mainly for its ability to suppress hunger and reduce weight. If you don’t trust CLA Safflower Oil to bring the promised results, you should try taking the plain oil available in stores.  If you want to be sure you take a completely natural product you can grow your safflower in the backyard and make your safflower oil or tea. Regardless of your option, safflower oil is a welcomed addition to your diet.

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