saffron

Saffron – The Sunshine Spice

Essential Facts about Saffron Stigma

Names

  • Botanical: Crocus sativus L
  • Sanskrit: Kumkum
  • Hindi: Kesar
  • English: Saffron
  • Other: The Sunshine Spice

Energetics

  • Rasa (taste): Pungent, bitter
  • Guna (qualities): Slimy
  • Virya (action): Warming
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effects): Pungent
  • Dosha (constitution): Tridoshic

Habitat

Saffron is native to Southern Europe and Iran.

Plant Description

Saffron is a perennial herb with purple flowers that grows to 10 to 30 cm in height. The thread-like parts of the flower are known as stigma, which has a reddish orange color.

Parts Used 

The thread-like parts of the flower known as stigma.

Other

Saffron is currently the most expensive spice in the world. A pound of saffron costs anywhere between $500 to $5,000 US.

One of the reasons for this is because the manner by which saffron is harvested is time-consuming and difficult, leading to high production costs. It’s also expensive because of the huge amount of raw material needed to produce the spice. 150 flowers are needed to produce a single gram of saffron stigma – or about 75,000 flowers to make a pound!

Medicinal Uses of Saffron Stigma

Saffron has been used as a medicinal herb for many centuries, particularly in Ayurvedic medicine. The Ayurvedic medicinal benefits of Saffron are as follows:

Fights Depression

Saffron is sometimes referred to as ‘the sunshine spice’ because it shows remarkable potential for helping to fight off depression (in addition to being brightly colored).

Saffron has consistently shown to be more effective than placebo for helping people overcome depression.

Fights Cancer

Saffron has been used in a number of different in vitro studies and has been shown to help fight cancer in a number of different ways.

One of these ways is because of its high antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants can help to eliminate free radicals in the body, which are known to help contribute to cancer.

Furthermore, saffron has been shown to directly kill various types of cancer cells in a number of different test-tube studies.

Enhances Sexual Health

Saffron is also known to have aphrodisiac properties: it can help enhance libido, particularly in people who have suppressed libido due to taking antidepressants.

Usage and Dosage of Saffron Stigma

Saffron is a highly potent spice, with only a thread or two of saffron stigma being powerful enough to flavor a whole meal. You can also take 0.5 to 1 gms of Kesar to heal various health conditions. It can be added to milk or warm water, or used as a paste for use on skin conditions, headaches, fever or quick healing of injuries.

An easy and cost effective way to incorporate this potent herb into your diet is to take Chyawanprash. Saffron is one of many powerful herbs and spices included in this ancient Ayurvedic recipe.

 

Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)