SAFFRON: A WIDELY USED SPICE WITH REPOSITORY OF MEDICINAL PROPERTIES
Saffron is a flowering plant widely used as spice obtained from the stigma of the flower of Crocus sativus Linn. This plant is used as a coloring and flavoring agent in the preparation of various foods and cosmetics.
Saffron is native to Iran and Greece. However, it is now cultivated largely in Southern Europe, Tibet and other countries in India. It is mainly cultivated in Kashmir and Uttranchal.
The stigmas of this great plant are mainly used for various therapeutic purposes. Apart from using saffron in the preparation of foods, the stigmas of this plant are basically used for the treatment of a variety of ailments traditionally, and of course supported by modern clinical studies as the medicinal properties attributed to this plant are quite extensive.
So, saffron as a spice has the potential to play a substantial role in improving the standard of living.
The therapeutic activities of this plant are confined in the chemical constituents and thus make it suitable to possess diversified medicinal properties for treating various ailments.
There are three major bioactive compounds in saffron according to various modern clinical studies including crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal which are known to be responsible for saffron’s elusive color, taste, and odor, respectively. Other chemical constituents of the plant include fat, moisture, minerals, proteins, crude fiber, sugars, volatile compounds including terpenes alcohol, terpenes and their esters, zeaxanthin, lycopene, carotene, and vitamins particularly riboflavin.
Potential Health Benefits of saffron spice consumption
- Saffron: A promising mood support agent: Depression is a major disabling condition that may have adverse effects on your personal, social, occupational, and educational function. It is the most commonly diagnosed psychological disorders and affects approximately 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience one episode of depression in their lifetime.
The use of saffron could lead to a high feeling of pleasure which is close to a psychotic state. So saffron is your perfect therapeutic agent for treating depression as one of the best-known properties of this plant is its enlivening and antidepressant activity. Saffron exerts its antidepressant effect by modulating the level of certain chemicals in your
brain, including serotonin (a mood-elevating neurotransmitter) giving you a state of wholeness in your depressing moments.
- Saffron enjoys a great reputation as a spice in enhancing stimulation of sexual desire especially in men: Modern clinical studies have shown that saffron and its bioactive pigment “crocin” can help affect your sexual factors by enhancement of erectile function, increasing of libido, amelioration of semen quality and reduction of hesitation time in men.
- Saffron has a beneficial effect in the treatment of various ailments concerning women: Modern clinical trials have shown that the administration of saffron can help shorten the delivery process in women and effective in relieving symptoms of premenstrual syndromes such as genitourinary system disorders, leucorrhoea, and hysteria.
- Saffron is your perfect heart enlivening agent: Saffron also merits usage as a strengthening agent for the heart, and various internal weak organs and cooling agent in
the brain. It exerts significant cardioprotective effect due to its cardiotonic and hypotensive properties as it enhances blood flow and nutrition to the heart.
- Saffron usage will help protect your eyes: The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic properties of saffron has been investigated by modern research studies and known to reduce ocular disease such as cataracts, retinal degeneration, and help enhance ocular blood flow and retinal function. So saffron has excellent properties of strengthening your eyesight.
- Saffron also enjoys a great reputation as a drug which strengthens the functioning of the stomach and thus promotes its action: Saffron neutralizes gastric acid, cleanses the stomach, increases digestion of food, strengthens liver and stomach and decreases appetite as it possesses satiation effect that could contribute to weight loss.
Physiological Activities Of Saffron
Other therapeutically uses of this golden condiment include antimicrobial agent, excellent candidate for antinociceptive, sedative agent due to its hypnotic and anxiolytic effects, and traditionally saffron can be used as stimulant, fragrant, tonic, aphrodisiac, stomachic, antispasmodic, emmenagogue, diuretic, anticancer, laxative, galactagogue, and is useful in bronchitis, cephalalgia, pharyngoplasty, vomiting, fever, epilepsy, inflammations, skin diseases, septic inflammations, stimulation of circulation, etc.
In as much as there are a number of beneficial uses of this great plant, high consumption of saffron could be dangerous and the extract should not be taken in doses exceeding 325mg per day. Fortunately, the herb is therapeutic in much lower doses and supplements don't have anywhere close to 300mg.
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Jose‐antonio. (2004). “Biology, Biotechnology and Biomedicine of Saffron”. Recent Research Development in Plant Science. 2127‐2159.
“Saffron for health”. http://www.babysaffron.com/saffronusage.htm.