Saffron is a popular cooking spice that is derived from the saffron crocus flower (Crocus sativus). It belongs to the iris family of
plants. It is commonly known to be one of the most valuable and expensive spices in the world. This is because harvesting the saffron “threads” is still done by hand
as it was in ancient times.1 Saffron has been used traditionally in medicinal contexts for millennia. Ancient Greek healers, including Hippocrates, used saffron
to treat a variety of conditions like coughs and upset stomach.1
Saffron Health Uses and Health Benefits
Saffron health benefits include being highly nutritious with a very rich manganese content. Saffron is also high in vitamin C,
magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamin B6. Saffron has other important compounds including carotenoids and antioxidants.1 Saffron health benefits include:2
- Improves cardiovascular health
- Helps fight cancer
- Treats PMS symptoms
- Improves sex drive
- Aids in weight loss
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Improves eyesight3
- Improves memory and learning3
Saffron uses include being a natural remedy to treat or prevent the following conditions:
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration - Studies have shown that saffron is helpful in slowing or preventing age-related macular degeneration. It is believed to help support the healthy growth of eye tissue because of its antioxidant content.
- Depression - One of the traditional saffron uses has been for treating anxiety and depression. Saffron has been shown in studies to help treat mild to moderate levels of depression.
- Macular Degeneration - Saffron has important health benefits for improving eye health, which can help prevent macular degeneration or stop its progress.
- Celiac Disease (Gluten Intolerance) - Many people take saffron for celiac disease as it may help to reduce intestinal cramping and to help cleanse the blood.
- Insomnia (Sleep Disorder) - The natural anti-anxiety health benefits of saffron can help to calm nerves and provide a soothing effect. This is helpful for people with insomnia to improve sleep quality.
Saffron Side Effects and Precautions
Saffron side effects have been reported when people take over 5 grams daily. These poisonous levels may produce saffron side effects including yellow skin pigmentation, vomiting, vertigo, numbness, bloody diarrhea and other adverse effects. Saffron should not be taken during pregnancy.2