Medicinal Properties of Saffron
Medicinal Properties of Saffron
Saffron, the exotic golden spice, can do more than just add color and flavor to your dishes. It has been valued in traditional Asian medicine for its impressive health benefits. It has been known since Antiquity as a remedy for all pains, without claiming to be a universal medicine, it is however a natural solution for many health problems in our times. These days, modern science has begun to recognize the power of saffron's bioactive compounds such as crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal. From lowering insulin resistance to tackling depression, these substances boast a medley of amazing benefits. Read on to learn how saffron can spice up your health in the best way possible.
This spice has been well known for a very long time as a remedy against many ailments. It is among the richest plant sources of riboflavin (vitamin B2). It also contains an essential oil, safranal, and some crocetins which are carotenoids, that is to say pro-vitamin A.
In the East, saffron was generally used to treat light to moderate depression; it had the reputation to bring cheerfulness and wisdom. Because of this, it is said that it has aphrodisiac properties for women. Depression is a common problem that impacts 19 million Americans. And while there are countless pills to treat depression, saffron has emerged as an effective and natural alternative. One study determined that the power of saffron is comparable to the antidepressant imipramine for treating mild to moderate depression. Saffron seems to work its magic through crocin and safranal, both of which modulate the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, the cocktail of brain chemicals that influence your mood.
In traditional medicine, the plant is used for abdominal pain.
In Chinese medicine, it is employed as a painkiller for cramps and asthma and can also treat bruises.
In broths, it stimulates digestion.
Saffron's dyeing power is still used to give the golden yellow colour to cloth used for special purposes like Buddhist robes, the bride's veil in some countries of Maghreb, and above all in carpets as it is said to act as a moth repellent.
The famous Venetian blonde of Italian renaissance women was obtained by coating their hair with a mixture of saffron and lemon, then staying out in the sun.
It allows heart rate to slow down as well as lowering blood pressure and even stimulate respiration. It is said to ease digestion, relieve the liver and to thin the blood.
It is both analgesic and tonic.
In Morocco, saffron is part of a remedy passed down from mother to daughter still used to relieve tooth ache when babies get their first teeth (as an external analgesic for gums), by massaging gums with a gold ring coated with honey and saffron, a lotion with natural antiseptic properties.
In France, the well-known Delabarre syrup took up the same recipe.
Insulin resistance – a condition in which your cells stop responding normally to the hormone insulin – is a leading factor in the development of diabetes. Crocetin, a major component of saffron, has been found to tackle insulin resistance. An animal study found that when rats were fed a high-fructose diet, they developed insulin resistance along with many other pathological changes. Amazingly enough, crocetin’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties alleviated their insulin insensitivity. And while it is always best to limit high-fructose foods, saffron may be able to help prevent the negative impact of the occasional soda and candy.
Its pigments play a stimulating function in digestion (using from 0.5 to 1 g per litre of water, saffron stimulates digestion), safranal has a sedative action.
In general, saffron is known to act on the nervous system.
Grandmothers also relieved young women's painful periods by giving them tea or milk with saffron.
At very high doses, saffron can be dangerous (>10 g), which would be an exceptional case as the usual proportion is from 0.01g to 0.02 g per person.
It gives relief from pain, especially in the gums.
It is used as a pure powder or diluted with honey to apply directly in the mouth or mixed with some glycerine to relax tense body areas.