By Karen Appold
Saffron is an herb from the flower of the plant crocus sativus. Its therapeutic benefits have been known for at least 3,000 years, when it was used as a natural aphrodisiac. This red herb has been used for centuries in some Asian countries for its health benefits, as well as a spice and coloring agent. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, zinc, and iron, and contains high amounts of vitamins A, B2, C, folic acid, and niacin. It’s a more expensive herb because 150 flowers are needed to make just 1 gram of saffron strands.
Some of saffron extract’s health benefits include:
Helps with weight loss
Research shows that saffron nutritional supplements can reduce feelings of hunger between meals and diminish cravings and compulsive eating. It achieves this by controlling serotonin levels in your blood, which signal hunger pangs. Serotonin is a chemical in your brain.
Studies show that saffron can treat depression as effectively as some anti-depressants, such as fluoxetine and imipramine. As a result, you may not need to use anti-depressants, which can have many side effects. It is believed that saffron helps depression because it is an antioxidant.
Studies on mice showed that saffron extract delays tumor growth. It can also help to treat and prevent certain types of cancer, such as liver cancer, skin cancer, and sarcoma.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, you can take saffron to treat arthritis and other inflammatory joint diseases. It can also relieve pain associated with pre-menstrual syndrome.
Slows progression of eye diseases
Research shows that saffron extract slows down macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. It also protects your eyes from the effects of bright light.
Saffron extract can increase your strength and your body’s energy level.
Saffron speeds up the healing of cuts, burns, and wounds, both internally and externally.
Karen Appold is a medical writer in Lehigh Valley, PA.