Safflower Oil

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Lipids

It is a fixed oil obtained from the ripe and dry seeds of Carthamus tinctorius Linn., belonging to family Compositae.




Biological Source


It is a fixed oil obtained from the ripe and dry seeds of Carthamus tinctorius Linn., belonging to family Compositae.


Geographical Source


This is one of the most ancient crops cultivated in Egypt as a dye-yielding herb. Now, it is cultivated as an oil seed plant and regarded as substitute for sunflower. It is cultivated in Russia, Mexico, India, United States, Ethiopia, and Australia.


Method of Preparation


For expression of oil, the seeds from promising varieties in India are selected, cleaned and further processed. About 1000 seeds of safflower weigh 20 to 50 g. The seeds normally contain 35 to 38% of fixed oil. The oil is prepared by expression in expellers or with the help of hydraulic presses. The oil is filtered and further purified. The seed meal or round seeds are subjected to cooking by means of open steam, which ensures maximum yield of oil. The filtered and decolourized oil is packed into suitable containers.




It is a clear, faint yellowish liquid with characteristic odour and taste. The oil thickens and becomes rancid on exposure to air. Safflower oil is slightly soluble in alcohol and freely soluble in ether, chloroform, benzene and petroleum ether. Specific gravity 0.9211 to 0.9215, acid value 01–9, refractive index 1.472 to 1.475, and saponifiction value 188–194.


Chemical Constituents


Safflower oil contains glycerides of palmitic (6.5%), stearic (3.0%), arachidic (0.296%), oleic (13%), linoleic (76–79%), and linolenic acids (90.15%). The polyunsaturated fatty acid content of the oil is highest (75%) and is said to be responsible to control cholesterol level in the blood, and thereby, reduces incidence of heart attacks.




The edible oil is used in the manufacture of oleomargarine, as a dietary supplement in hypercholesteremia and also in treatment of atherosclerosis. Due to its high linoleic acid content, it is consumed for preparation of vegetable ghee. Industrially, it is used for preparation of soft-soap varnishes, linoleum and water-proofing material.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparation known as Saaf Organic Eraser Body Oil.


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