Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. The world’s annual saffron production is estimated to be around 300 tons, with Iran producing the most (76%). There also have been recent reports about its pharmacological activity and medicinal properties. `The two major carotenoids in saffron, crocin, and crocetin may have antitumor effects. These compounds may also reduce inflammation risk. Safranal, another compound in the spice, was found to promote retinal health. ` Saffron is a small, bulbous, perennial spice, a member of the lily family. To produce saffron, the stigmas [the part of the flower, which catches pollen] must be painstakingly handpicked, cut from the white style and then carefully laid on a sieve and cured over heat to deepen the flavor- a process so labor intensive that saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.
The benefits and medicinal properties of this highly priced spice, make it a valuable culinary ingredient worldwide. Modern research suggests that saffron can be used as an aphrodisiac, diaphoretic. ` There are many varieties of saffron available which are used for flavouring the food as a spice. It is quite popular for its antioxidant, anti-fungal, antimicrobial property and finds a place in the preparation of many useful medicines.
1. May Reduce Cancer Risk:
Saffron is rich in two major carotenoids, namely crocin and crocetin. Preclinical evidence demonstrates that certain carotenoids may have potent antitumor effects. Literature data indicate that saffron could be used as a potential cancer chemopreventive agent. Even though some of the data looks convincing, more well-designed clinical trials in humans are warranted to ascertain the anticancer effects of saffron.
Saffron contains a dark orange, water soluble carotene called crocin, which is responsible for much of saffron’s golden color. Crocin has been found to trigger apoptosis programmed cell death] in a number of different types of human cancer cells, leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma.
2. May Help Fight Inflammation and Arthritis:
An Italian study states that the crocetin in saffron promotes cerebral oxygenation in rats and positively acts in arthritis treatment. This effect could most likely be attributed to its antioxidant activity. However, these results have been obtained only in vitro or on laboratory animals and not yet on humans.
3. May Boost Vision Health:
In rat studies, safranal, a constituent of saffron, was found to delay retinal degeneration. The compound could also reduce rod and cone photoreceptor loss. These properties make safranal potentially useful for delaying retinal degeneration in retinal pathologies. Saffron supplementation was also found to induce a mid-term, significant improvement in the retinal function in the case of age – related macular degeneration.
4. Increases Male Fertility:
Kesar is known to increase sperm count and improves overall fertility in men. It also helps in reducing erectile dysfunction and is a natural aphrodisiac. Kesar is also useful in improving female fertility.
5. May Promote Brain Health:
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of saffron extracts could imply its therapeutic potential for various issues of the nervous system. The spice interacts with the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems, which may have beneficial effects in the case of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. ` Recent studies have also demonstrated that saffron extract, specifically its crocin, is useful in the treatment of age related mental impairment. In Japan, saffron is encapsulated and used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, memory loss and inflammation.
6. To increase vitality:
In low libido saffron aids as a sexual stimulant and can be consumed in a dose of a pinch in a glass of milk at bed time.
7. In patchy baldness:
Saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.
8. Improves mental health:
Researches state that kesar has been immensely useful for improving mental health. It induces better learning power and improves memory. Due to its significant contribution towards brain health, it has been used for treating diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Benefits to skin:
Use of kesar can reduce skin problems. It is an age-old natural home remedy and protects the skin against various skin issues. Diseases like skin cancer can also be treated with the use of this miraculous herb. It is an important part of many skin care supplements because of the major benefits that it provides to the skin.
10. Saffron controls heart rate:
Potassium in saffron is good in controlling the heartbeat by allowing it to slow down thus protect the heart.
11. Saffron for blood pressure:
The zafaran spice contains many minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Some of these are helpful in controlling blood pressure as well as in the formation of hemoglobin.
12. May help in isnomia treatment:
Other clinical trials also indicate that saffron supplementation could help improve symptoms of depression in adults dealing with major depressive disorder. One of the symptoms, as per research, is insomnia. However, further long-term follow-ups are required before firm conclusions can be made in this regard. Insomnia is the result of negative impacts of stress, anxiety, medicines and other health issues. Kesar can be helpful in treating insomnia to a great extent. It relaxes the body and mind which helps in providing better sleep. Anxiety, depression and stress can be handled significantly with the regular use of kesar.
13.Saffron for hair loss:
The application of Zafraan over the scalp is good in treating baldness (alopecia). The mix of saffron, milk, and licorice, when applied over the scalp, is good in the prevention of hair loss and hair growth. The application is also helpful in stimulating hair growth.
14. Saffron good for cellular functioning:
Due to the presence of many macro-micro nutrients, especially potassium and magnesium, it is helpful in the growth of cells and tissues. It is also helpful in repairing cells in the body.
15. Saffron for hemoglobin formation:
Saffron contains iron that is good in the hemoglobin in the blood.
16. Heals wounds:
Kesar is herbal in nature and heals wounds naturally. The cuts and burns can be offered better and quicker healing with the use of saffron.
17. Saffron for glowing skin:
Take 4-5 strands of saffron and soaked it in the water for 2-3 hours. Now, use this mix over your face and massage gently. Wash it after 5 minutes. The process may be repeated twice or thrice a week for fairer skin.
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