Saffron Herb ; It is one of the oldest plants in the world used for medicinal purposes. Today, it is considered to be “the most expensive spice in the world“.
Saffron is a traditional medicinal plant used by ancient civilizations in history. Spice and tea form are widely used. Due to the difficulty of harvesting, the price of a kilogram can exceed 10 thousand dollars. For half a kilogram of saffron, the plant grown in an area the size of a football field must be harvested. Of course, such a precious, medicinal and useful plant, which is so hard to obtain, has much more important properties!
What is Saffron Grass?
The scientific name of saffron is “Crocus sativus”. It is a plant from the family of “Jumps” (Iridaceae). It is a bulbous cultivar of the Crocus genus.
Saffron is obtained from wire-shaped, reddish, thin tassels called “stigma” inside the flowers of the plant.
So these tassels are called “saffron”. The “hill” is the most important and most valuable part of the plant. This part is at the tip of the pistil and is reddish in color with violet tones. “The Hill” consists of three parts. It runs along the inner canal of the flower.
Purple colored flowers have a maximum of four leaves. Stems and stamens are yellow. The leaves (corolla) are strip-like. The reproductive organ is the onion part. Bulbs about 4 to 5 centimeters in diameter and in the form of small brown globules consist of parallel fibrils in the form of a mat.
Saffron is a perennial herb. It likes areas with strong direct sunlight. Sunlit slopes are suitable places for this plant. Does not like shadows. The flowers bloom in autumn.
The saffron plant is sterile, its flowers cannot produce seeds. It is not found in nature by itself. Reproduction of the flower is provided by humans. In order for the plant to grow, the reproductive organ bulbs under the ground are removed, divided and separated. It is then sewn again. An onion that lives only one season is divided to obtain 10 shallots.
The size of the bile can grow from 20 to 40 centimeters. After the autumn harvest, the flowers are dried. The flowers are individually hand-picked in the early hours of the morning during the harvest season. The reason of this; As the sun rises, the flowers close. After the flowers are collected, the mounds inside are removed by hand and left to dry in the sun.
It is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in Greece in history. It is widely produced in Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Italy. It is grown in Safranbolu district of Kastamonu and Harran Plain in Şanlıurfa in Turkey.
There are about 80 types of saffron, it has a sharp and straw-like taste and a special aromatic odour.
What are the Benefits of Saffron?
Saffron has been used for various pains, digestive problems and high blood pressure since ancient times. In recent years, research on saffron has yielded new results regarding its benefits.
The plant contains important compounds such as “picrocrocin”, “crocin” and “safranal”. Saffron, which contains beneficial vitamins and minerals for human health, together with these compounds; antioxidant, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antihyperative, anticancer and antitussive effects were observed.
Having a unique taste and flavor, saffron is widely used especially for its digestive and appetizing properties. It is recommended in asthma, bronchitis and nervous diseases.
Let’s take a look at the potential benefits of saffron;
One of its most important benefits is its “anticancer” feature. The compounds named “safranal”, “crocin” and “picrocrocin” in its content prevent the formation of cancerous cells. It has been determined that it has an inhibitory effect on the proliferation of tumors, especially in prostate and breast cancer cases.
Saffron, which has been found to suppress the growth of leukemia cells, may also have a pro-apoptotic (programmed cell death) effect in lung cancer cases.
It has positive effects on the nervous system. It can improve the general mood. It is said to reduce the symptoms of depression. It is especially recommended in cases of mild to moderate depression.
The ingredients called “crocetin” and “crocin” strengthen mental memory. This feature can prevent brain function disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
By increasing learning capacity, it leads to improvements in memory.
Saffron, which is a strong expectorant; It is effective against diseases such as sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough.
Saffron extract facilitates weight loss by suppressing appetite.Due to this feature, it is recommended in cases such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, low sperm count and low sperm motility.
It can be useful against menstrual period problems in women. It can be a good alternative to a variety of symptoms, from mood swings to physical ailments associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).
It is effective in curing arthritis and joint pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also relieves muscle inflammation and supports the body against fatigue.
By lowering blood pressure, it provides protection against heart diseases. It has been observed to lower blood pressure. It can also reduce tissue damage caused by bad cholesterol. Its antioxidant properties have a protective effect on heart health.
Let’s take a look at other potential benefits of saffron;
It is effective against tooth and gum diseases.
It has antipyretic properties.
It can be used against itching and acne on the skin.
It is an effective remedy for acne and similar skin disorders.
It can reduce the effect of psoriasis.
Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
It supports eye and mouth health.
Can be used for insect bites.
It facilitates the healing of wounds.
Relieves urinary complaints.
Positive effects have been observed in neurodegenerative diseases.
Prevents involuntary muscle contractions.
It strengthens the bones.
It can be applied directly for hair health.
What are the Side Effects of Saffron?
Saffron; As with many other plants, it is a plant that can be harmful to health when used in large doses.
In addition to this, as a result of excessive consumption;
It can cause symptoms such as dry mouth, headache, dizziness, anxiety, nausea, drowsiness, and appetite changes.
It can cause allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.
When consumed in high doses; Cases of poisoning, yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, epistaxis, bleeding of the lips and eyelids, and numbness have been reported.
It is recommended that individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s and depression should consume doses not exceeding 30 milligrams per day.
It is stated that daily consumption of 12 to 20 grams or more can lead to death.
It can trigger excitability and impulsive behavior (mania) in people with bipolar disorder.
Consuming large amounts of saffron can worsen heart conditions, as it can affect the heart rate.
It can lower blood pressure. For this reason, it is not recommended for people with low blood pressure.
Especially those who have chronic diseases and take regular medication should consult a doctor while consuming various forms of saffron herb.
How to Use Saffron?
Today, saffron is both a spice in food and an ideal herbal treatment alternative for various health conditions.
It can be used as extract, oil, powder and wire. In various forms, it is a valuable contribution in many fields, especially in the food, textile and pharmaceutical industries.
The flower of saffron is used as a food coloring and flavoring by drying the male organs, including the petiole, which connects the stigmas inside the flowers to the plant. It can also be used as a fabric dye and perfume component.
Saffron; It has a spicy, sharp and slightly bitter taste. It is preferred to add color and flavor to the dishes. It is extremely tasty and aromatic. mounds; It is a special addition to rice dishes as well as vegetable, meat, seafood and poultry dishes and pastries. A sharp and healing taste to the dishes in which it is used; adds a yellow-orange color.
It is an ideal alternative to synthetic food additives. It can be added to vinegar with garlic and thyme. It adds a rich flavor to butter cakes, pastries and cookies. It can be added to coffees with cardamom. It can be added to some fruit yogurts. Moreover; Used in sauces, broths, hot drinks and pills, it can be applied topically with massage oils.
How to Make Saffron Tea?
Like many other herbs and spices, saffron can be prepared as a tea. For saffron tea, the dried mounds are brewed in hot water. However, saffron has a strong and bitter taste. Therefore, it can be mixed with various herbal teas, herbs or spices.
Recipes for saffron tea may differ; but generally the following recipe can be used for an ideal saffron tea;
Boil water in a teapot.
Add the pieces of saffron to the water.
Add other herbal teas or herbs as desired.
Let it brew for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Strain the mixture from the water.
Saffron can be mixed with cardamom.
Raw milk or coconut milk can be added to give it a richer taste.
Saffron tea can also be consumed as ice. Basil, lemon and honey can be added to this version.
Nutritional Value of Saffron
A tablespoon of saffron is approximately 2 grams. The nutritional value of this amount of saffron is as follows;
0.1 grams of fat
0.1 grams of fiber
0.2 grams of protein
1.3 grams of carbohydrates
0.2 milligrams of iron
0.6 milligrams of manganese
1.6 milligrams of vitamin C
5 milligrams of phosphorus
5.3 milligrams of magnesium
34.5 milligrams of potassium.
Do You Know About Saffron?
The word “za’feran” in Arabic means “saffron spice”.
It is known as “safalan” in China, “kesar” in Kashmir, and “zafran” in Iran.
There are different types of saffron; There are varieties such as Indian saffron, Afghan saffron, Spanish saffron and Persian saffron. There are about 80 species worldwide.
Saffron spice is the most expensive spice in the world by weight. The reason of this; harvesting requires a lot of labor, manual removal of the mounds inside the flowers and laborious drying processes.
The part of the bile used is the pieces in the form of wire or thread called “stigma” at the end of the flowers. Each flower has only 3 stigmas. It is necessary to collect 150 hillocks for 1 gram of saffron.
About half a kilogram of saffron can be obtained from a field the size of a football field. For half a kilo of saffron, around 225 thousand mounds must be collected from approximately 60 to 80 thousand flowers.
To collect 150 thousand saffron flowers, it is necessary to harvest day and night for 40 days.
Due to its rarity and difficulty in obtaining, its kilogram is sold in the world markets at prices between 1 and 10 thousand dollars.1 gram costs between 5 and 6 euros.
When added to warm water, saffron gives a color between orange-yellow, and can dye water about 100 thousand times its own weight in a golden yellow color.
Saffron contains more than 150 volatile compounds. Its most important compounds are “crocin” and “safranal”. These compounds have a therapeutic (therapeutic) effect.
The taste and smell of saffron spice comes from the chemicals called “picrocrocin” and “safranal” in its content. The substance responsible for its pungent odor is the “glucoside picrocrocin”.
The spice gives a yellow-orange color when used in food. The substance that gives this color to the dishes in which it is used is the pigment called “carotenoid”.
It is one of the most popular spices in Iran, India, Morocco, Central Asia and European countries, especially in the Far East and Arab countries.
Some stores sell the “safflower” plant as “saffron”. Safflower is also known as “Portuguese saffron” or “false saffron”. Safflower can be separated from saffron by considering its weak odor and taste. In some stores, fake saffron can be sold, especially in powder form.
Saffron cultivation dates back to 3 thousand years ago.