Be Healthy with Knowing the Benefits of Saffron
Spices are dietary constituents consumed daily by most of the world population to enhance the flavor, aroma or the taste of food. Saffron is indeed one of the most famous and valuable among them. It is commonly used for flavoring and coloring foods in different parts of the world. But the important thing is, benefits of saffron are not limited by their cooking-based uses, they also be very helpful to our health and defense system.
If you are interested to know more about the benefits of Saffron for well-being, continue this article with Saffron Express team.
Treating Sexual Dysfunction
Benefits of saffron, as well as other spices, have always enjoyed a reputation as an aphrodisiac in different Egyptian, Greek, Roman and other civilizations. Traditionally, Muslims, Phoenicians and Chinese use saffron as a sexual stimulant. The aphrodisiac activities of the aqueous extract of stigmas of C. sativus and its constituents, safranal, and crocin, were evaluated. It appears that saffron can, without risk, effectively combat certain fluoxetine-induced sexual disorders in women such as excitement, lubrication, or pain. Benefits of saffron have shown a positive effect on sexual function with an increase in the number and duration of erections in patients with erectile dysfunction–even after treatment for only 10 days.
Carotenoids, which include crocin and crocetin, play an important role in health by acting as natural antioxidants. One of the best benefits of saffron is they protect cells and tissues from the detrimental effects of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Crocin is the most studied active ingredient with regard to the antioxidant properties of saffron. However, it does not act alone—but thanks to work in synergy with other components such as safranal, dimethyl crocetin and flavonoids. Other studies focused on the negative effects of oxidative stress on our brain, since it is the organ most exposed to oxidation, due to the high phospholipid content of neuronal membranes and the existing link with development of neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer’s disease, whose treatment with saffron can prevent the aggregation and deposition of amyloid β peptide in the human brain and can, therefore, be useful in Alzheimer’s disease.
Cancer is the leading cause of death worldwide. Epidemiological evidence indicates that there is a correlation between a diet rich in antioxidants and a lower incidence of morbidity and mortality. Among the natural remedies, saffron and its ingredients (especially its carotenoids) have anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic activities while not exerting any cytotoxic effect on healthy cells. A wide variety of natural substances has been identified as having the ability to induce apoptosis in various tumor cells. Among the many biological properties reported with saffron, those anti-carcinogens are of great interest and are extensively studied by experiments both in vitro and in vivo. Abdullayev et al. found that naturally occurring saffron extract—in combination with two synthetic compounds—sodium selenite or sodium arsenite, may have a synergistic effect with saffron and may, therefore, have an important role in cancer chemo prevention. Likewise, Botsoglou demonstrated that the inhibitory effects of saffron against different malignant cells was dose dependent as well. Saffron pretreatment for five consecutive days prior to the administration of anti-tumor drugs, including cisplatin, significantly inhibited anti-tumor drug induced cellular DNA damage is also considered as one of the benefits of saffron.
Antispasmodic and Digestive Tonic
Virtues have been attributed as one of the benefits of saffron concerning the gastrointestinal and genital system, in particular, those of stimulating the stomach, reducing appetite, treating hemorrhoids, treating anus prolapse, limiting intestinal fermentations, helping with the treatment of amenorrhea, or to stimulate menstruation—and not to mention its abortifacient power. Safranal normalized gastric volume and pH, reduced the surface of gastric ulcer and produced gastric protection. In addition, it was able to improve the histological changes induced by indomethacin and the biochemical alterations of tissues.
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Anti-Inflammatory and Analgesic Effect
There is great interest in natural compounds such as dietary supplements and herbal remedies used for centuries to reduce pain and inflammation. Extracts and tinctures of saffron have been used to treat fever, wounds, lower back pain, abscesses, and gingivitis as well as pain related to the eruption of the first teeth in infants. Aqueous and alcoholic extracts of stigmas and saffron petals have an antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activity for both acute and chronic pain.
Effect on Cholesterol Levels
Nibbling is one of the dietary habits that are difficult to control, predisposing to weight gain and, consequently, obesity and subsequent metabolic complications (dyslipidemia, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, circulatory disorders, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, etc.). It mainly affects the female population and is frequently associated with stress. Due to the presence of crocetin, saffron indirectly helps to lower cholesterol levels in the blood and thus the severity of atherosclerosis, reducing the risk of a heart attack. The hypolipidemic effect of crocin is attributed to the inhibition of pancreatic lipase, thus limiting the absorption of fats and cholesterol. Previous studies have concluded that saffron has shown anti-obesity and anorectic effects in obese rat models. This thanks to its effect on the reduction of caloric intake by blocking the digestion of dietary fats via the inhibition of pancreatic lipase; the feeling of satiety due to the increased level of neurotransmitters without forgetting its role in the improvement of glucose and lipid metabolism. In addition, crocin has shown a significant decrease in the rate of body weight gain, total fat deposition, and regulates the weight ratio of body fat to the epididymis.
Read also: Cosmetical Uses of Saffron
Effect on Blood Glucose and Insulin Resistance
The use of high-dose crocetin (40 mg/kg) counteracts the development of insulin resistance by avoiding compensatory hyperinsulinemia; in fact, it limits dyslipidemia by maintaining the values of free fatty acids, triglycerides and LDL-c (Low Density Lipoprotein) in norms and avoids hypertension induced by a diet supplemented with fructose.
Healing of Second-Degree Burns
A study that aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of saffron extract cream in the treatment of heat-induced burns compared its results with those of silver sulfadiazine (SSD) in rats. The wound size of the saffron group was significantly smaller than that of the other groups. A histological comparison showed that saffron significantly increased the re-epithelialization of burn wounds compared with other treatments. Greeks first discovered and used this saffron’s benefit during their wars.
Effects on the Eyes
Saffron benefits have been discovered and used traditionally by different nations for various eye diseases such as corneal disease, sore eyes, cataracts and purulent eye infection. The kohl pencil was used in Egyptian antiquity. It is still used today to make eyes black. In fact, oriental women used it to protect themselves from attacks related to the sun, the wind, the sand and possibly ocular infections as well. Kohl was, in fact, a very fine powder obtained by grinding cloves, rosewood, saffron, and antimony. Current investigations show that saffron extract can reduce eye diseases such as cataracts, retinal degeneration, light-mediated photoreceptor cell death, and improves blood circulation and retinal function.
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Traditional and Modern Uses of Saffron (Crocus Sativus) by Ibtissam Mzabri, Mohamed Addi and Abdelbasset Berrichi