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Safflowers are a bitter herb often used for children’s ailments, such as chicken pox, fever and measles. Safflowers made into a hot tea induce perspiration and are therefore, considered by Western herbalists as a natural remedy for colds, flu, and fevers, including scarlet fever. Chinese herbalists recommend safflowers for promoting menstruation and soothing abdominal pain, as well as for healing sores and wounds and treating measles.

Safflowers stimulate the production and release of bile, helping to relieve gallbladder dysfunction, gallstones, jaundice, liver congestion and stagnation, sluggish liver function, and menstrual problems related to liver congestion, including amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea. Safflowers also act as a mild laxative and blood purifier, eliminating toxins and waste acids, including lactic acid. Safflowers are commonly used for arthritis, bursitis, gout, and skin rashes, including psoriasis.

Chinese research suggests safflower flowers may decrease the risk of coronary artery disease and reduce cholesterol levels. Safflower oil has also been shown to reduce cholesterol.

Polysaccharides found in safflowers have demonstrated the ability to enhance immune function in mice.

Safflowers are high in chromium and essential fatty acids, and supply modest amounts of vitamin A, potassium and selenium.

Safflower flowers and seeds should not be taken by pregnant women—purified safflower seed oil is considered safe. However, according to Ayurvedic medicine, as well as some Chinese herbalists, safflower oil promotes ill health and should not be used as a cooking oil. This may be due in part to its tendency for rancidity as a polyunsaturated oil. Recent research does seem favorable for oleic-rich safflower oil which exhibits the qualities of a monounsaturated oil, encouraging balanced cholesterol reduction and much slower deterioration.

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