History and Application of Saffron

Saffron was traditionally used to relieve fever, against cramps and as a sedative. Doctors also applied it as a cure for dysentery, measles, fever, jaundice, cholera, diabetes, urinary tract infections and, used externally, against bruising and rheumatism. In the Middle East, saffron has been considered a memory stimulant for centuries. Since ancient times, it has also been viewed as an aphrodisiac: its constituent crocus is a natural stimulant. There has been extensive research into the effects of saffron worldwide and results suggest the spice can have a positive effect on many defects.

For example, it has been said that saffron has the same function with depression as Prozac, thus improving the mood, without the negative side effects of its constituent fluoxetine. Saffron contains carotene and crocetin, which could positively affect cancer therapy and decrease blood pressure.

History of Saffron

Saffron was already used in ancient times and different cultures. Long before the birth of Christ, the spice was known in Asia Minor. Pharaohs in ancient Egypt used saffron for seasoning and as an aphrodisiac. The Greek used it for its aromatic qualities and its colour; the expensive spice was even disseminated unto floors of theatres and public areas to give them a pleasant smell. Even emperors in ancient Rome bathed in water which was perfumed with saffron. Arabs introduced the spice in Spain in the tenth century.

The word ‘saffron’ stems from the Arab ‘zafaran’, meaning ‘yellow’. Not such a far stretch: dissolving saffron in water gives it that specific colour. In many other languages, the name has the same origin.

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