Saffron, a very popular spice from the Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, is obtained from a plant called Crocus sativus. The dried stigmas, hand-picked from its flowers, are utilized to produce the saffron spice. Roughly, 75.000 saffron blossoms yield about half kg of this spice. Because this harvesting process is so labor consuming and laborious, saffron spice is very expensive and usually is referred to as “the Queen of spices”. Its wholesale and retail prices range from $1,100-11,000 / kg.
Anthropological evidence from Egyptian and Greek cultures has shown that saffron was used as medicine, as spice, and as color additive to foods. Recent studies carried out with animals and cell cultures suggest that saffron can be effective as an adjunctive therapy to treat various medical conditions or illnesses. These results, however, have not been conclusively proven in humans. Apparently, saffron can improve the symptoms associated with mild depression and reduces the manifestation signs of Alzheimer’s disease. It also seems to boost the immune system in patients with asthma and allergies. Women use saffron to alleviate the premenstrual syndrome and Men use it to prevent erectile dysfunction and as an aphrodisiac.
The most encouraging results have been derived from studies that link saffron with its capacity for lowering blood pressure, glycemia in diabetics, and improving glucose uptake and utilization by the muscles. The hypoglycemic effect was reported in 2011 in the Journal on Medicinal Plants. This study showed a significant reduction in blood sugar in induced diabetic rats. Saffron, given at a dose of 125 mg / kg body weight, reduced both blood glucose and HbA1C levels. Moreover, other scientific reports have demonstrated that saffron extract can alleviate peripheral neuropathy, a common neural complication of diabetes. Additionally, saffron contains potent antioxidants compounds that can prevent various health conditions due to cellular damages from free radicals.
It is important to point out that the use of saffron as an adjunctive agent to treat those illnesses mentioned above must be consulted with your doctor since saffron can interact with other prescribed drugs. For instance, should not be used in cases of allergies, liver cirrhosis, in individuals with hyperinsulinism, in pregnant women with hypoglycemia, and in persons having bleeding problems for any reason. In all these cases the administration of saffron can result in additional negative complications for the patient.
Usually, the daily recommended dose is 30 mg of saffron extract (liquid or capsules). This dose may vary depending upon the severity of symptoms and your doctor’s criterion. Finally, don’t try to save money buying cheaper saffron products because quite often those less expensive ones have been diluted with other spices and therefore, their qualities and effectiveness are compromised.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek medical advice for any questions regarding a medical condition or changes in your treatment.