Saffron Health Benefits
Saffron is one of the most valuable spices in the world. The threadlike red stigmas, along with the subtle yellow hue they produce, are legends in their own right. However, many stories have been told about the spice, many of us still don’t know how to use it or whether it’s worth the price.
Saffron’s high price is due to the labor-intensive harvesting method, making it an expensive product. The Crocus sativus flower, sometimes known as the “saffron crocus,” is hand-harvested for saffron. The stigma, or thread-like features, of the flower, are referred to as “saffron.”
Saffron is a delicate and fragrant spice. The somewhat sweet, rich flavor is difficult to define yet immediately recognizable in a meal.
It was first cultivated in Greece, where it was prized for its medical qualities. Saffron was consumed to increase libido, improve mood, and improve memory.
Saffron is expensive.Each flower only generates three saffron threads (stigmas) and blooms for one week each year. To conserve the fragile stigmas inside, the saffron must be harvested—by hand!—in the middle of the morning, when the blooms are still closed. One ounce of saffron requires approximately 1,000 blossoms. That’s why the real deal will set you back $10 to $13 a gram. Take a sniff to make sure you’re obtaining the best saffron—you want saffron that smells like sweet hay. There should be no yellow stamens and all stigmas should be red.
Saffron has many health benefits. It has a large number of plant chemicals that work as antioxidants, which are molecules that protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. Safranal, Crocin, Crocetin, and kaempferol are some of the antioxidants found in saffron.
Safranal is the component that gives saffron its characteristic flavor and scent. It may boost your mood, memory, and learning ability, as well as protect your brain cells from oxidative stress, according to research.
Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments that give saffron its bright red color. Both chemicals may have antidepressant qualities, as well as the ability to protect brain cells from increasing damage, reduce inflammation, and promote weight reduction.
Saffron flower petals contain kaempferol. Reduced inflammation, anticancer characteristics, and antidepressant effects have all been related to this compound.
Antioxidants are beneficial to your health because they protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Several studies suggest that saffron may have antidepressant properties and is effective and safe to use. Saffron has been shown in several trials to improve mood and alleviate depression symptoms. Supplements containing saffron were found to be significantly more effective than placebos at treating mild-to-moderate depression.
Crocus sativus (Saffron) is among the herbal remedies that have been investigated as anti-depressant drugs because of its anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-platelet properties. Saffron is extracted from the dried, elongated stigmas and styles of the blue-purple flowering plant, Crocus, which belongs to the Iridaceae family and has been used by some studies for treating depression.1
In general, both saffron petals and thread-like stigmas appear effective against mild-to-moderate depression, the same as Fluoxetine, and Citalopram which are the conventional treatments for depression. 1
Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals. The damage caused by free radicals is linked to diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. The use of saffron may be beneficial in this case.
By inhibiting RNA and DNA synthesis and promoting apoptosis, saffron has a selective toxicity towards cancer cells. Crocin is the most important anticancer agent found in saffron, and it regulates gene expression and apoptosis in cancer cells.
Crocetin inhibits cancer cell proliferation, which could be related to decreased DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis in cancer cells, inhibition of RNA polymerase II, and interactions with histone H1 and H1-DNA structures. Saffron and its constituents crocin and crocetin have also been proven to have anticancer and cancer-preventive properties in animal cancer models. Safranal has also demonstrated anticancer efficacy while posing minimal harm.2
Studies in test tubes have demonstrated that saffron and its compounds selectively kill or suppress colon cancer cells, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and several other cancer cells are also affected by selective killing.
A study also found that crocin – the main antioxidant in saffron – may make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy.
Taking 30 mg of saffron daily or simply breathing in the scent of saffron for 15-20 minutes a day has shown to be very effective in treating PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches, cravings, and pain.
As previously mentioned, saffron can help with PMS anxiety symptoms by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Some research that looked into the effect of saffron in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome found that 76 percent of women who took saffron claimed a fifty-percent reduction in the severity of PMS symptoms, whereas only 8% of women who got placebo reported such a benefit.
Saffron also helps with erectile dysfunction and libido, as well as lowering sex-related pain in women. Saffron may have aphrodisiac effects that are beneficial to both men and women.
Saffron pills can help you feel full and limit your cravings for unhealthy snacks, fats, and sugars, allowing you to lose weight and lose belly fat.
Saffron’s powerful antioxidant capabilities can assist enhance eyesight, cognition, and cholesterol levels in the elderly.
1. The efficacy of Crocus sativus (Saffron) versus placebo and Fluoxetine in treating depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Mojtaba Khaksarian, Masoud Behzadifar, Meysam Behzadifar, Maryam Alipour, Firouzeh Jahanpanah, Tania Simona Re, Fabio Firenzuoli, Riccardo Zerbetto, Nicola Luigi Bragazzi. Dovepress. Psychology Research and Behavior Management » Volume 12.
2. The toxicity of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and its constituents against normal and cancer cells. Alireza Milajerdia, Kurosh Djafarianb, Banafshe Hosseinia. Science Direct. Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism
Volume 3, March 2016, Pages 23-32.