Scientific Name: Crocus sativus; Also known as Saffron crocus or Autumn crocus
Common Name: Kesar, Kumkuma
Parts Used: Stigma, style, petals, flower pistils
Saffron is one of the most extravagant spices in the world. The plant is mainly cultivated and harvested by hand, which increases the labor.
Did you know that it takes about 160 flowers to produce 1 gm of Saffron?
It is a beautiful lavender coloured flower grown mostly in Kashmir. The plant grows up to 15-20 cm in height. The dried orange-yellow coloured stigmas are used to produce the condiment spice- saffron.
For a fact, Saffron is available in powder form or strands. Just 1 – 5 strands of Saffron is enough for daily use.
The royal and valuable condiment is known for its distinct aroma, colour. It’s a versatile medicinal herb. Furthermore, it contains certain chemicals that alter mood, kill cancer cells, decrease swelling and acts as anti-oxidants.
Saffron has several active compounds that are known to have therapeutic properties such as antioxidant, antiseptic, antidepressant, digestive and anti-convulsant. Besides, it contains over 150 volatile and aromatic compounds.
Saffranal is one of the essential volatile oil that gives a pleasant flavour.
Certainly, the distinct flavour comes from chemical compounds known as Picrocrocin and Safranal. Secondly, Saffron gets its golden orange-yellow hues from a naturally occurring pigment i.e carotenoid known as Crocin.
Health Benefits: -
- Powerful anti-oxidant & Cancer-fighting property - Saffranal and Crocin are found to have an antioxidant and cytotoxic effect on cancer cells.
- May improve mood - Saffron’s fragrance is said to stimulate a cheerful mood. Helps cure melancholia.
- Treats depression – Both Saffranal and Crocin have anti-depressant properties.
- Cardio-Vascular system – Cardiotonic property of Saffron helps the easy flow of medicines in the body to target the heart. Helps in reducing cardiovascular risk factors.
- Helps in reducing menstrual cramps and PMS symptoms. Also, regulates menstrual cycle in women.
- Acts as an aphrodisiac – used to increase interest in sex.
- It strengthens the immune system. It may also reduce appetite & aid in weight loss.
- Used for asthma, cough, sore throat, whooping cough and sleep problems.
- It is an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. However, it is also rich in important vitamins such as Vitamin A, Folic acid, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Vitamin C.
- Saffron paste is used to induce hair growth and treat baldness. The derivatives of Saffron are said to cure or prevent gastrointestinal problems.
- When used topically, it relieves headache, toothache, mouth sores, anal pain, muscle cramps, stomach pains, and insect bites. It also helps in treating bruises and wounds.
Saffron has Rasa (pungent, bitter), Virya (heating) and Vipaka (pungent) qualities. Its qualities are light and unctuous. Above all, it has a Sattvic effect on the mind. And balances the Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas. Further, it helps in the assimilation of nutrients in the body for tissue formation and flushing out toxins.
Saffron is mixed with warm milk and added as a flavouring/colouring agent while preparing dishes. In foods, it is commonly used as a colouring agent. And it is also used as a fragrance in the perfumery industry. Moreover, it is used as a dye in cloth, textile industry.
In conclusion, Saffron has been used to help fight against diseases over the centuries. So, a lot of research has been carried out on Saffron’s properties to figure its effectiveness on various diseases.