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Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) is a highly branched, herbaceous, thistle-like annual plant. It belongs to the Asteracese family. It is commercially cultivated for oil extracted from the seeds. It is described as a bushy herbaceous plant possessing several branches. Plants are 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 in) tall with globular flower heads having yellow, orange, or red flowers. Each branch will usually have from one to five flower heads containing 15 to 20 seeds per head. Safflower is native to arid environments having seasonal rain. It grows a deep taproot which enables it to thrive in such environments.
Safflower is one of humanity's oldest crops. Chemical analysis of ancient Egyptian textiles dated to the Twelfth dynasty identified dyes made from safflower, and garlands made from safflowers were found in the tomb of the pharaoh Tutankhamun. Safflower was also known as carthamine in the nineteenth century. Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) production commenced in Australia during the 1950’s. American safflower material was successfully introduced and adapted to Australian conditions by Australian breeders located in Biloela, Queensland and after just four years, over 4046 hectares in Central Queensland were sown to safflower.
Safflower oil is rich in essential fatty acids, which helps unclog pores. It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, D, E and K and helps repair scar tissue. It is one of the highest natural sources of Oleic acid and therefore helps to rejuvenate damaged skin and is a moisture shot for dry skin. It increases the integrity of the cell membrane and is an anti-inflammatory. Safflower oil contains lubricant properties that prompt the skin to retain water and moisture.
Safflower oil and extracts are important in drug development with numerous pharmacological activities in the world. For a long time Carthamus tinctorius has been used in traditional medicines. It has recently been shown to have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic activities. Safflower seed oil is used for preventing heart disease. It is also used to treat fever, tumours, coughs, breathing, clotting conditions, pain, heart disease, chest pain, and traumatic injuries.
Safflower oil is a favourite in natural skin care. Suitable for all skin types, highly moisturizing and soothing to the skin – it is ideal for sensitive and dry complexions.
Safflower works with the skin to soften and retain natural moisture. Perfect for cream blends, skin blends or using as a massage oil on extremely dry skin. It’s content make this oil a key treatment for skin problems such as psoriasis and acne.
Safflower oils can be found in cosmetics, skin care products, facial cleansers, exfoliators and moisturisers, body scrubs, creams and lotions, ointments, bath products, hair treatments and oils, shampoos and conditioners.