Saffron Revered Around the World for Its Medicinal and Culinary Properties

Saffron is one of the most revered and expensive spices in the world. The plant’s origins can be traced back to central Asia, and it is now widely cultivated in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Its medicinal properties are contained in the stigmata, which come from the Crocus flower (Crocus Sativus). Because the yellow stigmas (or threads) must be carefully extracted from the flower by hand, the process is very labour intensive – thus the high price.

When dried, the stigmas produce a carotenoid pigment of crocine, a very potent pigment. Saffron has been prized for its colour, flavour, and medicinal properties by healing traditions around the world. In Ayurveda, saffron is considered to be one of the best known blood vitalizers. According to Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, “Saffron counteracts inflammatory conditions associated with excess Pitta (Fire), while powerfully stimulating circulation and regulating the spleen, liver, and heart.” As such, it is used in folklore medicine to treat a wide range of symptoms including:

Digestive problems: to relieve vomiting, gas, acidity, and indigestion;
Insomnia: taking a pinch of saffron in warm milk before bed helps alleviate insomnia
Cardiovascular: because saffron is a blood purifier, it is often used as a cardiac tonic for those with heart disease
Menstrual problems: According to herbalist David Frawley, “Saffron is not a tonic in itself but when used together with other tonics like dong quai, it will catalyze them to promote tissue growth in the reproductive organs and in the entire body.” As such, it is considered a good herb for addressing menstrual pains and irregularities by promoting blood flow and relieving spasms.

According to The Yoga of Herbs by Dr. Vasant Lad and Dr. David Frawley, the crocine in saffron is a powerful yellow pigment valued in the Middle East for the fine quality of yellow dye it yields. Even in one part per 100,000, it will colour water yellow. It is used to make saffron rice, to which it imparts a beautiful yellow colour.

Combined with food, saffron will aid assimilation into the deeper tissues. It is used as a tonic with other herbs and teas, in medicated oils, in medicated ghees, or in milk with honey, mixing 100 to 500 mg in heated milk.
Ayurvedic consultant at the Big Carrot Dispensary, Francis Ashwagandha, likes to make medicinal wine by soaking saffron in organic wine.

And web blogger Sunita-Sharma recommends saffron for brightening the face, reducing fatigue lines, acne, and dark circles around the eyes. Here is her recipe for a Saffron Face Mask:

Ingredients
Saffron (3 – 4 threads)
Sugar: a pinch
Plain bread: 1 small piece
Milk: 1 teaspoon
Olive or Coconut oil: 2 – 3 drops
Method
Pour water in a small bowl. Add saffron threads to the water and leave it overnight. By morning the saffron will turn to a yellowish colour.
Add milk and oil to the water. Take a small piece of bread and dip it in the mixture and then wipe it on your face.
Keep this face mask on your skin for 15 minutes and then rinse it off with water.

Advantage Health Matters has now started importing saffron by Organic Traditions from northern India. This product, which comes in a 1 gram jar, is certified organic and guaranteed to be of the highest quality. You can find it at The Big Carrot Wholistic Dispensary (348 Danforth Ave, Toronto, 416-466-8432, email dispensary@thebigcarrot.ca, or visit: https://www.thebigcarrot.ca). Also available in other selected health food stores.

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