Saffron is a spice that comes from the flowers of crocus sativas Linne. The crocus grows in the Middle East and part of Europe. It’s most commonly cultivated in Iran, India, and Greece.
It’s only flowers for about tree to four weeks during October and November. The flower produces dark red stigmas, also called threads, which are removed carefully by hand and dried. These are considered to be the saffron spice.
Saffron has also been used for culinary purposes to add color and flavor to foods, as a fabric dye, and a perfume ingredient. Like many other herbs and spices, saffron can be prepared as a tea.
Saffron is a powerful spice high in antioxidants. It has been linked to health benefits, such as improved mood, libido, and sexual function, as well as reduced PMS symptoms and enhanced weight loss. Best of all, it’s generally safe for most people and easy to add to your diet.
PROTECTS AGAINST CANCER
SAffron contain a dark orange, water soluble carotene called crocin, which is responsible for much of saffron’s golden color. Crocin has been found to trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of different types of human cancer cells, leukemia, ovarian, carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. Researchers in Mexico who have been studying saffron extract have discovered that saffron and its active components display an ability to inhibit human malignant cells. Not only does the spice inhibit cells that have become cancerous, but it has no such effect on normal cells and actually stimulates their formation and that of lymphocytes (immune cells that help destroy cancer cells)
PROMOTES LEARNING AND MEMORY RETENTION
Recent studies have also demonstrated that saffron extract, specifically its crocin, is useful in the treatment of age related mental impairment. In Japan, saffron is encapsulated and used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, memory loss and inflammation.
IN DELAYED PUBERTY
In under developed girls, saffron has an overall stimulant effect. A pinch of saffron crushed in a tablespoon of milk is useful to stimulate hormones and bring about desired effect.
TO INCREASE VITALITY/PROMOTING LIBIDO
Saffron may also increase sex drive and sexual function in both males and females. Saffron aids as sexual stimulant and can be consumed in a dose of a pinch in a glass of milk at bed time.
Researchers reviewed the effect of saffron on male infertility problems and noted that while it had a positive effect on erectile dysfunction and overall sex drive, it did not change the viability of the semen.
An older study from 2012 looked at the effects in women who had reported experiencing sexual dysfunctions due to taking the antidepressant fluoxetine.
Women who took 30 mg of saffron each day for 4 weeks had increased sexual desire and vaginal lubrication compared with those a placebo instead.
IN PATCHY BALDNESS
Saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.
PROTECTION AGAINST COLD
Saffron is a stimulant tonic and very effective to treat cold and fever, saffron mixed in milk and applied over the forehead quickly relieves cold.
The majority of the health claims sorrounding saffron relate to its high level of specific antioxidants.
According to a 2015 review, the main active antioxidant include:
Other compunds includd kaempferol and crocetin.
These antioxidant help fight against oxidative stress and free radicals in the body.
As oxidative stress and free radicals play a role in the development of many health conditions, including cancer and heart disease, antioxidants such as these may help protect a person’s health.
PREVENTING NERVOUS SYSTEM DISORDERS
The antioxidants in saffron may play a role in protecting the body from disorders affecting the nervous system.
Research from 2015 notes that compounds in saffron, such as crocin, appear to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain, which may lead to beneficial effects.
A study in the journal Antioxidants noted that saffron might theoretically help with Alzheimer’s symptoms due to both its memory-enhancing properties and its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
People with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s who took saffron for 22 weeks had cognitive improvements that were comparable with those of people who took the drug donepezil, and they also experienced fewer side effects.
While this is early evidence to support the midicinal use of saffron, researchers suggested that future clinical trials could help back up these claims.
These is also growing evidence that saffron may help improve mood and be a useful addtition to treatment for depression.
A study in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science found that a saffron extract increased dopamine levels in the brain without changing the levels of other brain hormones, such as serotonin.
Other research suggest that taking 30 milligrams (mg) of saffron each day could cause similar effects as drugs that treat mild-to-moderate depression, such as imipramine and fluoxetine.
REDUCING PMS SYMPTOMS
Saffron may also act to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
The authors of a 2015 review looked at the research on saffron and symptons of PMS. Women betwwen the ages of 20 and 45 years who took 30 mg saffron each day had fewer symptoms than those who took a placebo.
Additionally, women who simply smelled saffron for 20 minutes had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their system, which may also contribute to a reduction in PMS.
PROMOTING WEIGHT LOSS
There is also some evidence to suggest that saffron may help promote weight loss and curb the appetite.
A study in the Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research found that taking a saffron extract helped people with coronary artery disease index (BMI), total fat mass, and waist circumference.
People who took the supplement also had a reduced appetite compared with those in the placebo group.
SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS
In general, the consumption of saffron carries little risk. Cooking with saffron is a great way to add it to the diet without the risk of consuming too much of this spice.
Taking up to 1.5 grams of saffron each day is generally safe, but eating too much can be toxic. Researchers consider 5 g to be a toxic dose.
Very high dosages may be more dangerous for certain groups of people. For instance, the authors of one study note that pregnant women should avoid having more than 5 g per day of saffron as it has a stimulating effect on the uterus.
Allergic reactions are a possibility. Anyone who experiences symptoms of an allergic reaction after taking saffron should see a doctor.
HOW TO TAKE SAFFRON?
In small doses, saffron has a subtle taste and aroma and pairs well with savory dishes, such as paella, risottos, and other rice dishes. The best way to draw out saffron’s unique flavor is to soak the threads in hot-but not boiling -water .