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Saffron has a long history and was already an important remedy in antiquity around 1600 BC in the Minoan culture; saffron was also used by the ancient Egyptians for the treatment of diseases. The Greek physician Hippocrates described the positive effects of saffron around 400 BC. Around 250 BC, saffron reached India and China via the Silk Road, where it is mentioned as a medicinal plant alongside ginseng, aconite and other important medicinal plants.
Doumas 1992:158-159, Fig. 122
Image © Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford
Saffron's health benefits have a wide range of potential uses, from sedative, anti-inflammatory, sexual stimulant, anti-depressant, and much more. Many researchers are convinced that the valuable ingredients of saffron threads can be used against many ailments of modern society.
“In the coming years, saffron is expected to play an increasingly important role in the treatment of various diseases and ailments of old age.”
One benefit of saffron that has been explored in multiple scientific studies is its ability to support cognitive function. Crocetin, crocin and safranal, three antioxidants found in saffron, may help improve memory and learning ability. These substances may also help prevent neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease.
Saffron is lovingly referred to as the ‘sunshine spice’ for more than just its golden hue. It has also been found to support your mood, as one particular review of five clinical studies concluded that saffron was much more effective than the placebo. Interestingly, although saffron stigma was most effective, saffron petals were also highlighted as being more effective than the placebo. Saffron was used for mood as far back as the Minoan period!
As well as having internal benefits for your health, saffron may also be able to support your skin health too. Equally, a more recent study found that the combination of saffron extract and avocado oil in a face cream assisted with facial skin rejuvenation.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a variety of symptoms, from abdominal pain to acne breakouts. For many women, PMS also affects mental health, causing anxiety, depression and mood swings. Some research studies have found that saffron can alleviate PMS-related depression.
Saffron is rich in antioxidants. These substances help fight cell damage and may prevent cancer. Research also shown that the antioxidants in saffron may be healthy for your brain and nervous system.
“Saffron is an aromatic addition to your dishes. One of the best ways to use it is to put the threads in hot water and let it steep for at least 15-30 minutes. – Be careful not to use boiling water though! Alternatively, the saffron can be steeped in warm milk or warmed wine. Do not use oily liquids – the saffron will not dissolve.”
Losing weight can be hard, especially when your appetite seems to be working against you. One study on a group of women found that taking saffron regularly helped them feel less hungry and snack less frequently. But it doesn’t work alone. Combine saffron with a healthy, balanced diet for success.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to maintain an erection, affects millions of people. According to some research, saffron could be a treatment for ED. Medical professionals often recommend ED medications that work for many people. But those looking for an herbal remedy could try saffron. Studies have shown that 30 milligrams a day is effective, but you shouldn't exceed that amount. High amounts of saffron can be toxic.
In the medical and pharmacological research of recent years, several studies have proven the antidepressant effect of saffron. Responsible for this is the crocin in saffron, which can act as an antidepressant in light or medium doses. The intake of 20-30 threads per day over a period of several months is a condition.
Sleep deprivation or problems falling asleep are now considered a global public health pandemic but are often not recognized and their negative effects are often greatly underestimated. Recent studies give strong support to saffron's abilities as a sleep aid.