Saffron: The Worlds Most Expensive Spice, Health Benefits and Skin Diseases
Benefit of Saffron
Location: Noted as the world’s most expensive spice, the saffron plant is native to Asia Minor, but is cultivated in many countries such as France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Iran as well as in Jammu and Kashmir state of India.The harvested stigma from the flower of the crocus sativus plant is known as saffron.
Description: The saffron plant (crocus sativus) is a perennial autumn plant, and it is the flower which produces the prized part of the plant - the style and stigma. Each flower produces three stigmas which are harvested by hand. These stigmas are referred to as staffron threads, and it takes over 12000 of them weigh one ounce. Flowering takes place in October, and these flowers go from lilac to mauve. Each flower sends out a style which has three prongs. These prongs then end with a crimson stigma. Saffron is a member of the Iris family.
Usable parts of the plant: Style and stigma.
Saffon Medicinal Uses/Properties
Saffron is known to have medicinal properties and is useful in the following manner:
- Saffron acts as a sedative
- Acts as a pain reliever
- It is a stimulant
- Promotes menstrual flow
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory application for gout
- The chemical substance crocetin found in the plant promotes the health of the arteries by fighting the formation of cholesterol in the arteries, and it also increases blood oxygen.
- Strengthens organs such as the heart and the stomach
- Excellent for reducing fevers, enlarged livers and cramps
- Used to calm nerves
- External application for bruises, rheumatism and neuralgia and skin conditions such as psoriasis.
Uses and Preparations
Stigmas: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 12 to 15 stigmas and allow to sit for 10mins. A commercial extraction can also be used.
Saffron is cultivated and used for other purposes such as making perfumes, medicines, dyes and flavourings.
Take only one cup of the preparation daily in small doses.
As is the case with all conventional medications it is best that persons taking herbal medicines be aware of the active ingredients of the substance they are taking into their bodies as well as the dosage. It is well advised that persons who take herbal medicines do a thorough research and advise themselves accordingly.
How Much is Saffron?
Active Ingredients in the Saffron Plant:
Saffron contains over 150 volatile aromatic compounds and many other non-volatile but active ones. Many of these non-volatile compounds are carotenoids and include zeaxanthin and lycopene.
Lycopene can also be found in foods such as tomatos, guavas, pink grapefruit and red oranges. It has very good antioxidant properties.
Zeaxanthin can be found in most herbs, fruits and vegetables. It is a bioflavonoid which means that zeaxanthin provides our body with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant protection.
Storage and shelf life: Saffron is usually wrapped in foil paper and stored in a tin/jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in a cool dark place. Shelf life, if stored properly, will extend for at least three years though it will lose its flavor with the passing of time.
Saffron may produce fatal narcotic effects if taken in large doses