Traditional and Modern Uses of Saffron
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and that’s because it has always been a useful, rare, and hard-to-cultivate crop. Crocus sativus was used for a variety of purposes, and it still is so useful in some of them. Saffron Express team is honored to invite you to read this amazing brief history of this magical plant, saffron.
History and Origin
Saffron is one of the oldest spices, its history going back to the highest antiquity. The earliest depiction dates from 1600 to 1700 BC and was found on a fresco of Minos Palace in Crete, depicting figures plucking saffron. Concerning the origin and domestication of crocus sativus: Vavilov indicates that its origin is the Middle East, while other authors suggest Central Asia, or the islands of south-west Greece. From this primary zone, it would have spread to India, China and Middle East countries. Such as Iran.
The economic impact of saffron is important because of its high price, as it presents a strong added value. In addition to its economic importance, its importance is also in the agronomic, environmental and social domain. This crop mobilizes a large workforce—especially female—during the period of harvesting and pruning saffron. The production of one kilogram of saffron requires 150,000 to 200,000 flowers and about 400 hours of work. This article will describe the current understanding of the therapeutic properties of saffron, their relationship with the various phytochemicals commonly found in this gold spice, and the other different uses of this spice that give it particular renown, especially in the cosmetics field.
Crocus sativus is one of the oldest spices, its history goes back to the highest antiquity. Ancient authors, such as Homer, Solomon, Pliny or Virgil, mention this flower in their narrative, which was then considered as divine. The earliest depiction dates from 1600 to 1700 BC and was found on a fresco of the Minos Palace in Crete, Thera, depicting figures plucking saffron.
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Concerning the origin and domestication of saffron: Vavilov indicates that its origin is the Middle East, while some other authors suggest Central Asia or the islands of south-west Greece. Crocus sativus is likely selected and domesticated in Crete during the Bronze Age. From this primary zone, it would have spread to India, China and to Iran, and the countries of the Middle East.
Cosmetology and Perfumery Uses
More recently, crocus sativus has attracted a renewed interest for its use in cosmetics. Since ancient times, saffron is used for cosmetic purposes, absorbed in infusion or even in the cutaneous application, mixed with fat or macerated in donkey milk, for its eternal youthful properties. Cleopatra used it in her beauty products. In traditional Iranian medicine, saffron can improve the complexion and can be used to treat erysipelas. In traditional Greek medicine, it can refresh the skin of the face and is used to relieve the liver of the domination of bile and to treat acne, skin diseases and wounds. In addition, the body may look younger and brighter. In another category, Hindu women used crocus sativus to make the bindi, the red or yellow dot on the forehead. It is, in a way, a third eye symbolizing good fortune and conscience. Nowadays, saffron tepals have been studied in several studies as being rich in crocin and kaempferol, thus representing an important source of bioactive compounds for potential cosmetic formulations.
Read also: The use of saffron in Hinduism
Pharmacological Benefits of Saffron
Since ancient times, plants have been used in every civilization, worldwide, as a source of traditional medicine. For more than 3000 years, crocus sativus has been considered a panacea, according to Ayurvedic, Mongolian, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek and Arabic medicines.
Read also: What is Saffron place in medicine?
Saffron was traditionally used as an antidepressant from long ago. Depression is one of the five most prevalent diseases worldwide. Also, crocus sativus has 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. Other than these two major traditional uses, crocus sativus in nowadays known as an antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, antispasmodic, digestive tonic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, lowers cholesterol level, dyslipidemia limiter, etc.
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If you enjoyed reading this article, you can find the full text under the name of “Traditional and Modern Uses of Saffron (Crocus Sativus)”, by Ibtissam Mzabri, Mohamed Addi, and Sbdelbasset Berrichi, Laboratory of Biology of Plants and Microorganisms, Faculty of Sciences, B.P. 717.