the Saffron It is one of the most expensive spices in the world, since it is the stigmas of the flower of crocus sativusthe same being something so delicate, requires that it be harvested by hand and as if that were not enough, it is not an easy plant to grow.
Although we all think this plant originated in Spain, it actually originated in Greece, where it was revered for its medicinal properties. People ate saffron to increase libido, improve mood and improve memory.
75,000 saffron flowers are needed to produce just under half a kilo of saffron spice.
Medicinal uses and properties of saffron
The stigmas, and sometimes also the petals, are also used to make medicine. Saffron is used for asthma, coughs, sore throats, whooping cough (whooping cough) and to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant).
It is also used for sleep disorders (such as insomnia: see the full list of infusions if you have this problem), cancer, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), vomiting, intestinal gas (flatulence) , depression, anxiety, memory improvement, Alzheimer’s disease, coughing up blood (hemoptysis), pain associated with childbirth, heartburn, physical performance and recovery, a skin condition called psoriasis and dry skin.
Women use saffron for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Men use it to prevent premature orgasm or premature ejaculation and infertility.
Saffron is also used to induce sweating, increase interest in sex (as an aphrodisiac), and improve blood sugar levels in patients taking medication for schizophrenia.
Some people apply it directly to the scalp for baldness (alopecia).
In foods, saffron is used as a spice, food coloring and flavoring agent, although today turmeric is used more for these purposes due to its low price.
Saffron extracts are also used as a fragrance in perfumes and as a dye for fabrics.
Health benefits of saffron
A powerful antioxidant
Saffron contains an impressive range of plant compounds that act as antioxidants, molecules that protect cells against free radicals and oxidative stress.
Notable antioxidants in saffron include crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol.
Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments and are responsible for the red color of saffron. Both compounds may have antidepressant properties, protect brain cells from progressive damage, improve inflammation, reduce appetite, and aid in weight loss.
Saffron gives saffron its distinctive flavor and aroma. Research has shown that it can help improve mood, memory, and learning ability, as well as protect brain cells against oxidative stress.
Finally, caempferol is found in the petals of saffron flowers. This compound is linked to different health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, as well as having anticancer properties and increasing antidepressant activity.
Improves mood and symptoms of depression
Saffron is nicknamed “the spice of the sun”. This is not only due to its distinctive color, but also because it can help lift the user’s mood.
In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos in treating symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Other studies have shown that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was as effective as fluoxetine, imipramine and citalopram, conventional treatments for depression. And obviously and unlike drugs, without side effects.
Crocus petals and thread stigma appear to be effective for mild to moderate depression.
But longer human studies with more participants are still needed before saffron can be recommended as an effective treatment for depression.
May have anti-cancer properties
Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic diseases such as cancer.
In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds have been shown to selectively kill colon cancer cells or inhibit their growth, while leaving normal or healthy cells intact.
This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lungs, breast, cervix and other cancer cells. Furthermore, studies in vitro found that crocin (the main antioxidant in saffron) can positively increase the effect of chemotherapy.
Although the results of these studies are promising, the anti-cancer effects of saffron have not been well studied in humans, and more research is needed.
Reduce PMS symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes the physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that occur before the onset of a menstrual period. Various studies show that saffron can help treat symptoms of PMS.
In women aged 20 to 45, taking 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than placebo in treating PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches, food cravings and pain.
Another study found that simply smelling saffron for 20 minutes helped reduce symptoms of PMS such as anxiety, and in turn lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Can act as an aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiacs are foods or supplements that help boost your libido. Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties, especially in people taking antidepressants.
For example, taking 30mg of saffron daily for four weeks significantly improved erectile function compared to placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction. Additionally, an analysis of six studies showed that taking saffron significantly improved erectile function, libido, and overall satisfaction, but not sperm characteristics.
In women with low sex drive due to taking antidepressants, 30 mg of saffron daily for four weeks reduced sex-related pain and increased sex drive and lubrication, compared to placebo. But if that sounds like an expensive condiment, which it is, here’s a list of aphrodisiac foods in a recent article.
Reduces appetite and aids in weight loss
According to recent research, saffron can help prevent snacking by reducing appetite. The eight-week study showed that women taking saffron supplements felt significantly fuller, ate less frequently, and lost significantly more weight than women in the placebo group.
In another eight-week study, taking a saffron extract supplement significantly reduced appetite, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and total fat mass.
However, scientists don’t know exactly how saffron curbs appetite and helps with weight loss. The hypothesis is that saffron improves mood, which reduces our cravings for food.
Reduces risk factors for heart disease
According to several animal studies and some carried out in vitro, they indicate that thanks to the antioxidant properties of saffron, it is possible to reduce cholesterol in the blood and avoid the obstruction of blood vessels and arteries.
Saffron and Diabetes
Saffron, also according to some studies, has a direct action on blood sugar levels, reducing blood sugar levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.
Positive effects for the eyes
Saffron appears to improve vision in adults with AMD and protect against free radical damage, which is linked to AMD.
Saffron and Alzheimer’s
Apparently, it can improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease, thanks to its antioxidant properties, it can notably improve cognition in adults with this disease. But this is only beginning to be studied.
Dosage when consumed as medicine
- For Alzheimer’s disease: 30 mg of saffron extract daily for 22 weeks.
- For depression: 30 mg of saffron extract or 100 mg of saffron daily for up to 12 weeks.
- For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): 15 mg of saffron extract twice a day.
- Contraindications and adverse effects of Saffron
Saffron is completely safe in normal amounts when consumed as a spice. But nevertheless, consumed as a medicine for prolonged periods, it may present contraindications with the risk of side effects, among which:
- dry mouth
- bad mood
- nausea or vomiting
- constipation or diarrhea
- appetite changes
- flushing and headaches
Another of the contraindications of saffron is that it can also cause allergic reactions in some people.
Taking large amounts of saffron is strongly discouraged. High doses, 5 grams or more, can cause poisoning. Doses of 12 to 20 grams can cause death.
Special precautions and warnings:
Pregnancy and breast feeding: Taking saffron by mouth in amounts greater than those normally found in food is dangerous. Larger amounts of saffron can cause the uterus to contract and cause miscarriage.
Not enough is known about the safety of using saffron while breastfeeding. Remain cautious and continue to use only quantities of food.
Bipolar disorder: Saffron appears to be able to affect mood. It is feared that it may trigger excitability and impulsive behavior (mania) in people with bipolar disorder. Do not use saffron if you have this condition.
Allergies to Lolium, Olea (including olive) and Salsola plant species: People allergic to these plants also may be allergic with saffron.
heart disease: Saffron can affect the speed and strength of the heartbeat. Taking large amounts of saffron can aggravate certain heart conditions.
Low blood pressure: Saffron may lower blood pressure. Consuming saffron can cause blood pressure to be too low in people with low blood pressure.
IMPORTANT: This information is intended to supplement, not replace, the advice of your physician or healthcare professional and is not intended to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions, or adverse effects. This information may not be tailored to your specific health situation. Never delay or neglect seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read in ecothings. You should always consult a healthcare professional before starting, stopping or changing any type of treatment.