Saffron - Effective Herb for Blood Pressure

Saffron

Crocus sativus Iridaceae Also called Autumn crocus, Saffron crocus.


A native if India and the eastern Mediterranean, saffron was brought to England in the Middle Ages and was cultivated around Saffron Walden near Cambridge, hence the town~ name. TOday, most saffron is imported. It takes around 75,000 .flowers, harvested by hand, to obtain 500g if saffron. This makes sqffron very expensive. Its name comes from zaJaran, the Arabic word for yellow.


Parts used

  • Stigmas
  • Stigmas are gathered in autumn when the flowers are in full bloom.
  • They are grasped between thumb and index finger and detached - a delicate and time-consuming job.
  • After drying, they are used whole as flavouring, or powdered.
  • Extracts are made into tinctures, syrups and gels for medicinal use.
  • Saffron should be used withina year of picking.

Constituents

Saffron contains a bitter substance called picrocrocin, which stimulates the appetite and aids digestion. The plant's essential oil is rich in safranal, a compound that gives saffron its characteristic aroma, and which could be responsible for the plant's sedative effect. The stigmas contain yellow and red carotenoid pigments - crocin and gentiobiose - that have antioxidant properties.


Medicinal uses

Saffron has been used as a kitchen herb for centuries, both for its bright orange-yellow colour and for its strong, intense flavour and aroma. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans valued saffron for its aphrodisiac properties. However, the high cost of this spice means that it is rarely used as a natural medicine.


Saffron was traditionallyused to treat teething painin infants. It is thought to regulate menstruation, and aid conception; it is also reputed to remedy colic and lower blood pressure. Saffron is prescribedfor nervousness as it is believed to be a sedative. This attribute has not yet been confirmed experimentally, but research in Iran, in 2002, found extracts of saffron to be both antiinflammatory and analgesic.


Researchers have been looking at the cancer-fighting antioxidant action of saffron. In 1996 Spanish scientists found that saffron inhibited the growth of human tumour cells, a property that they attributed to the carotenoid, crocin. And in 1999, further studies showed that crocin suppressed the development of colon cancer. These findings could open up a new area of medicinal use for the plant.


Cultivation

Plant the corms in summer in a well-drained soil. Saffron likes full sun and a warm environment.


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT menstrual disorders TINCTURE (1:5 in 60% alcohol) Take 5-15 drops in water three times a day.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


CAUTIONS

Large doses of saffron are poisonous and can damage the kidneys and central nervous system.


Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding.



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