Most of saffron’s healthful qualities can be attributed to crocin, a compound in saffron.
The amazing healing and medicinal properties of saffron offer various benefits, some of the most important ones include prevention of serious ailments like cancer, improving respiratory and digestive health, and eliminating pain. It also acts as an aphrodisiac.
The best saffron benefits are discussed hereunder:
1. Fights Cancer
Studies have shown that cancerous rats treated with saffron aqueous extract showed improvement in their condition.
And crocin, the compound in saffron, had inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells (while it left the healthy cells unaffected). It also had shown similar effects in the case of hepatic and prostate cancers.
The spice had also played a major role in treating skin cancer
saffron is rich in carotenoids, which can contribute to its anticancer properties.
Crocin in saffron can prevent breast cancer and leukemia. However, further research is warranted.
As per a report by the American Council of Science and Health, crocetin (a carotenoid related to crocin) in saffron can block the proliferation of two types of human cancer.
It achieves this by inhibiting an enzyme that is particularly active in cancer cells.
Though this may not brand saffron as a superb anticancer food, the spice does hold great promise.
According to another study, crocetinic acid (a purified compound from crocetin) has the potential to inhibit pancreatic cancer.
In fact, the compound obstructs cancer stem cells – destroying them, which prevents the cancer from returning.
2. Aids Arthritis Treatment
An Italian study states that crocetin in saffron can enhance cerebral oxygenation, consequently facilitating arthritis treatment.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, one variety of saffron (meadow saffron) can be effective in relieving gout.
However, it must not be used by elderly patients with liver, kidney or bone marrow disorders – and neither by pregnant women.
3. Improves Vision
A Spanish study states that the natural compounds in saffron can help prevent vision loss and retinal degeneration.
Safranal, one of the compounds in the spice, was found to preserve photoreceptor morphology (the mechanism in the eyes that helps study the forms of things you see), visual response, and capillary network.
4. Cures Insomnia
Though research is limited, certain studies say that saffron can cure insomnia. Other studies show that saffron can help in treating depression, and insomnia related to the condition.
5. Boosts Brain Health
Numerous studies show saffron to be effective in treating learning and memory impairments. In one such study, administering 30 mg of saffron a day showed improvement in the condition of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
6. Helps Cure Asthma
Reports throw light on saffron’s use for asthma since the ancient times. Traditional medicine has mentioned the use of saffron for this purpose. However, research is limited. Hence, consult your doctor for more details.
7. Promotes Digestion
Saffron was found to play a key role in promoting digestion and treating digestive disorders through its antioxidant effects and radical scavenging, and anti-inflammatory properties.
8. Heals Wounds
Saffron can also heal wounds, especially those caused by burns. The spice was found to increase re-epithelialization in burn wounds.
9. Enhances Immunity And Energy Levels
The carotenoids in saffron can positively affect immunity. A study has found that sub-chronic use of 100 mg of saffron daily can have a temporary immunomodulatory activity without any harmful effects.
10. Is Good During Pregnancy
According to an Iranian study, saffron can increase the readiness of the cervix during term pregnancy.
It also has the highest effect on effacement (shortening of the uterine cervix and the thinning of its walls). Also, the number of cesarean sections was lower in women who took saffron.
Conversely, some reports say that saffron can also be used to terminate pregnancy. Please consult your doctor in this regard. Take their advice.
11. Might Offer Relief From Menstrual Symptoms
There is limited evidence on saffron relieving menstrual symptoms. However, an Iranian herbal drug comprising of saffron was found to relieve primary dysmenorrhea.
12. Improves Heart Health
Due to its antioxidant properties, saffron helps maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels. And the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties also benefit the heart.
Saffron is the richest source of riboflavin, an important vitamin for the heart. The crocetin in the spice indirectly regulates blood cholesterol levels and reduces the severity of atherosclerosis.
13. Enhances Liver Health
One study shows how cancer could be beneficial to patients with liver metastases (27). Saffron was also found to offer protection against structural liver damages. It also aids in the treatment of liver toxicity.
14. Works As An Aphrodisiac
Saffron was found to improve human sexual function – and that too, without the ill effects. Studies on human males with erectile dysfunction proved saffron to be marginally effective – but since there were no side effects, the spice holds great potential.
Saffron is beneficial to the male reproductive system as well. In yet another study, the crocin in saffron had improved mounting and erection frequencies in normal male rats.
Similar effects are possible in humans too.
Saffron is also effective on sperm morphology and motility in infertile men. Though it doesn’t increase the sperm count, it does help in the treatment of male infertility.
Crocin in saffron was also found to potentially reverse the damage caused to the male reproductive system due to extended nicotine use.
15. Relieves Insect Bites
Topical application of saffron extract is claimed to relieve insect bites. However, there is little research on this.
16. Treats Inflammation
One study by The University of Manchester has revealed that Egyptians used saffron to treat inflammation.
And given the anti-inflammatory properties of saffron, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
In another study, saffron could display protective effects in acute kidney injury caused by induced ischaemia.
Even the saffron petal extracts possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Various sources state that saffron is also beneficial for improving blood flow, promoting cell formation and repair, and treating fever and toothache.
But there is limited research available. Hence, talk to your doctor if you intend to use saffron for any of these ailments.
Saffron, The Super Food!
What foods are considered a super food? Super foods are nutrient-rich foods that are considered to be beneficial for ones health and well-being.
Saffron not only stands out due to its rich color and aroma, but due to its medicinal qualities that have been practiced for centuries.
This expensive comes from the flower of Crocus sativus, a lavender-colored flowers that bloom each season between October and November.
Saffron is used all around the world not only for its unique taste when cooking, but as a medicine since it contains high vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and manganese, copper and iron are all found in saffron and all aid in maintaining a strong immune system and cardiovascular system.
If you ever need a boost, there are plenty of ways to consume saffron to ensure you intake all of its medicinal properties.
First, you should purchase the best quality saffron in threads instead of powder so that all of its medicinal properties are intact.
You should also keep it in a cool and dry place to make sure that they remain intact.
You can add a pinch of saffron threads to either warm or cold water and add to your tea or recipe.