Saffron deserves its nickname of “red gold”, so precious are its qualities. It is moreover the most expensive spice in the world, whose price per kilo is close to that of gold. Originally, this plant was particularly cultivated for its tinctorial properties… and medicinal, more than 3500 years ago. The Persians and Egyptians used this spice in particular as an aphrodisiac and antidote against poisonings. In the Middle Ages in Europe, saffron was used for treat respiratory infections, fight against insomnia or relieve stomach aches.
In sauce, with pasta, vegetables… If today, saffron is mainly used in cooking, scientists still sing its praises. Focus on the main benefits of this plant from Crete, in the Mediterranean basin.
Saffron: medicinal virtues linked to its active ingredients
“The saffron stigmas contain an aromatic essence rich in safranal and phenyl-ethanol, carotenoid pigments, including crocin and picrocrocin, bitter glycosides and group B vitamins”, details The Petit Larousse of healing plants. The stigmas are the pistils of the flower Crocus sativus L. (three per plant) which are dried and powdered to create the saffron spice. 150 flowers only produce about 1 gram of powder.
In China, the spice is sold in pharmacies for fight against abdominal pain, induce menstruation or treat pulmonary embolism. “There is currently a resurgence of interest in properties antigenotoxic and anticarcinogenic saffron extract, and more particularly crocin, as well as for its antidepressant effects.”
Medisite lists you in pictures the seven main medicinal benefits of saffron. Note however that at high doses (over 10g/d), saffron can become toxic to the body and cause hallucinations. Its therapeutic use is also not recommended during pregnancy.