July 28, 2016

Saffron

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What other names is Saffron known by?

Autumn Crocus, Azafrán, Azafron, Croci Stigma, Crocus Cultivé, Crocus sativus, Indian Saffron, Kashmira, Kesar, Kumkuma, Saffron Crocus, Safran, Safran Cultivé, Safran Espagnol, Safran des Indes, Safran Véritable, Spanish Saffron, True Saffron, Zafran.

What is Saffron?

Saffron is a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is considered one of the world's most expensive spices. The stigmas are also used to make medicine.

Saffron is used for asthma, cough, whooping cough (pertussis), and to loosen phlegm (as an expectorant). It is also used for sleep problems (insomnia), cancer, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis), intestinal gas (flatulence), depression, Alzheimer's disease, fright, shock, spitting up blood (hemoptysis), pain, heartburn, and dry skin.

Women use saffron for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Men use it to prevent early orgasm (premature ejaculation) and infertility.

Saffron is also used for to increase interest in sex (as an aphrodisiac) and to induce sweating.

Some people apply saffron directly to the scalp for baldness (alopecia).

In foods, saffron is used as a spice, yellow food coloring, and as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, saffron extracts are used as fragrance in perfumes and as a dye for cloth.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Alzheimer's disease. Some research shows that taking a specific saffron product (IMPIRAN, Iran) by mouth for 22 weeks might improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease about as well as the prescription drug donepezil (Aricept).
  • Depression. Taking specific saffron extracts (Novin Zaferan Co, Iran) by mouth seems to improve symptoms of major depression after 6-8 weeks of treatment. Some studies suggest that saffron might be as effective as taking a low-dose prescription antidepressant such as fluoxetine or imipramine.
  • Menstrual discomfort. Some research shows the taking a specific product containing saffron, anise, and celery seed (SCA, Gol Daro Herbal Medicine Laboratory) reduces pain during the menstrual cycle.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some research shows that taking a specific saffron extract (Department of Cultivation and Development of Institute of Medicinal Plants, Iran) improves symptoms of PMS after two menstrual cycles.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Asthma. Some early research suggests that drinking an herbal tea mixture containing saffron along with anise, black seed, caraway, cardamom, chamomile, fennel, and licorice may reduce asthma symptoms in people with allergic asthma.
  • Athletic performance. Some early research shows that taking a chemical from saffron called crocetin might decrease fatigue in men during exercise.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Some early research suggests that taking saffron might reduce erectile dysfunction and increase the number and duration of erections.
  • Male infertility. Some research suggests that saffron might improve sperm function in men. However, the research has been inconsistent.
  • Psoriasis. Some early research suggests that drinking saffron tea daily, along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, might reduce the severity of psoriasis.
  • Insomnia.
  • Cancer.
  • "Hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
  • Cough.
  • Stomach gas.
  • Early male orgasm (premature ejaculation).
  • Baldness.
  • Pain.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate saffron for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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