Safflower has been used in some regions of Asia and Africa as a remedy acting like laxatives and antidotes to poison, and a medicinal oil in order to enhance sweating and cure fevers (22). It was reported that all parts of the plant have been traditionally employed to increase libido in Pakistan and India (8). Removing bitter principles, the Institute of Botany affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing has processed a new sweet-smelling product well rich in amino acids, minerals and vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E (22). There has been numerous evidence in support of the use of safflower medicines for menstrual problems, cardiovascular complications as well as pain and swelling in trauma cases (18, 20).
This study was an attempt to provide a comprehensive overview on the morphological characteristics, and the therapeutic as well as non-therapeutic potential of safflower with a view towards its traditional and folk uses in different parts of the world, mainly Iran. This plant species has beneficial effects on medical conditions concerning cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal organ, digestive system, and the like. A great number of animal and clinical studies has scrutinized such potentials, which are addressed in this study and can be considered as promising alternatives, if not replacement, for a peculiar medical condition. However, there is still an essential need for further phytochemical analyses and clinical trials on its essential oil or its different extracts. As an example, its antimicrobial as well as antioxidant effects of safflower not only can be widely used as a food protective agent but also may inhibit or retard the progression of certain diseases, namely vitiligo and black spots, psoriasis, and mouth ulcers. Moreover, some concentrations of safflower show effective outcomes in myocardial ischemia, coagulation, and thrombosis. Despite recent evidence indicating the adverse effects of safflower on the reproductive organs, it would cause semen improvement according to Persian traditional medicine, which necessitates further investigations.