Saffron, also known as golden spice, is one of the most expensive spices you will ever find worldwide. Adding it to food for its amazing bright orange color for garnishing desserts, Kesar (saffron) has been used differently. Every year more than 250 tons of saffron is produced worldwide, and this count sees a constant increase due to the recognition of its medical values. Not only today, but even in the Prehistoric Greek times, saffron was used by the Phoenician traders for its medical benefits. Even the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, has mentioned in his writing about using saffron as a drug for therapeutic purposes. It can be used to treat various physical health problems like stomach issues, flu, fever, flatulence, insomnia, heart pain, etc.
Are you one of those who are keen on knowing the health benefits of this spice? If yes, then don’t worry, as you are certainly at the right place. Let us now begin with some of its medicinal values and how they can help you. Before beginning with the health benefits, let us tell you that all of these benefits have been found out with experiments and research studies.
1. Improves and Treats Depression Symptoms
Saffron is also known as the ‘sunshine spice’, not just due to its bright color but also because it can lighten your mood. In an experiment, it was observed that people, who were provided with saffron supplements, could stay happier when compared to those who were consuming the placebo drugs. A lot of similar studies were conducted, and it has been found that constant intake of saffron can heal the patient from depression.
2. Reduce Cancer Risk
There is a dark orange-colored water-soluble carotene named crocin present in saffron. This element causes programmed cell death in different cancer cells, like the ones present in leukemia, colon adenocarcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, and much more. Research teams studying the extract of saffron recently reported that saffron and its major compounds are capable of inhibiting the unwanted growth of malignant cells in the human body. The spice will not only suppress cancer-causing cells, but will promote the development of cells and that lymphocyte.
3. Fight Inflammation & Arthritis
The crocetin present in saffron promotes cerebral oxygenation, which can positively impact the conditions like arthritis. This effect can also occur due to the anti-oxidant properties of saffron, as observed in many experiments. Even the petal extract of saffron has some sort of anti-inflammatory effect due to the presence of saponins, tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids in it.
4. Boosts Memory Retention Power
Saffron prevents the coagulation and accumulation of the protein molecules causing Alzheimer’s. The antioxidant activity of crocin lowers memory impairment and spatial learning problems caused by chronic stress. This spice interacts well with cholinergic and dopaminergic systems, which can help treat memory retention disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A lot of evidence also states that crocin in saffron can play a huge role in developing cognition skills.
5. Relieves Menstrual Pain
In ancient times, the herbs of saffron plants were used to regulate the menstrual cycle. Not just this, it also helps in lowering the lumbar pain, which usually occurs during the periods. Saffron is also very much in use for treating the conditions like leucorrhea, in which there is a constant whitish-yellow discharge during menstruation. Also, many experts suggest that by smelling saffron for at least 20 minutes, you can reduce the PMS symptoms such as anxiety, mood swings, and irritation.
6. Helps in Weight Loss
Munching on junk food or snacking constantly is one of the main problems people are at risk of gaining weight. Research has shown that saffron can help avoid munching by reducing the appetite. In an eight-week experiment, the women who were consuming the saffron supplements felt full and hence avoided snaking more often. Also, this helped them loose a lot of weight.
7. Treats Insomnia
As per studies, the crocin present in saffron helps in boosting the non-rapid eye movement sleep. Along with it, crocetin helps in increasing the total time of non-REM sleep by more than 50%. Many clinical studies also suggest that saffron supplements can significantly improve depression symptoms in adults who suffer from major depressive disorders. One of such signs, according to reports, is insomnia.
8. Reduces Blood Sugar Level in Diabetic Patients
Saffron plays a huge role in decreasing blood sugar levels and increasing the insulin level in the body. There was a significant decline in the blood glucose level of the rats when they were fed with the methanolic saffron extract. It also increases the blood insulin level rapidly without causing any problems to the liver and renal functions. The two main reasons for this decrease in the blood sugar level are the two anti-oxidants named crocin and safranal.
9. Promotes Good Digestive Health
The majority of the experiments have shown that the anti-oxidant properties of saffron helps in treating gastrointestinal disorders. That being said, spice’s effectiveness in the treatment of human gastrointestinal problems remains to be higher.
10. Better Heart Health
Saffron plays an important role in improving heart healthy by helping to reduce the risk of heart failure by improving the blood supply. The spice is high in thiamine and riboflavin, which foster a healthier heart and help prevent multiple heart problems. Owing to its antioxidant effects, it also helps in protecting healthy blood vessels and arteries. The anti-inflammatory properties of the saffron also protect the heart. Crocetin in spices partially controls blood cholesterol levels and decreases the incidence of atherosclerosis.
Saffron is certainly a beneficial spice, owing to its medicinal benefits. It has also been attributed to medical benefits such as better mood, improved sexual activity, decreased effects of PMS, and improved vision. Most of all, it is relatively healthy for almost all people and can be easy to introduce to your diet. Try adding saffron to your favorite recipes to make the most of your future health benefits or prefer consuming saffron supplements.