Wellness and taste

The saffron is considered the most expansive spice in the world. It is excellent with many dishes and it has several interesting therapeutic properties too.

This spice is obtained from the crocus sativus plant, an herbaceous plant belonging to the iris family. It is native of Asia Minor, but it wildly grows in the Mediterranean countries and in Italy too, where it is mainly grown in Abruzzo.

The bulb of the saffron plant is spherical, from here it starts a sheath of membraneous leaves, little and white, which have inside other green and linear leaves. The flowers are violet and have three long red-orange stigmas, which are dried and then used as a spice in cooking. The long and difficult labour to produce it increase a lot the cost of the saffron, considered the most expensive spice in the world. Just think that it takes about 200.000 flowers and more than 500 hours of labour to get only one kilogram of this spice!

Saffron Properties

A recent study made by a team of Iranian doctors proved that saffron is able to control one's humour, acting on the central nervous system; it makes this spice a good aid against depression, anxiety and stress. The team of doctors compared the drug fluoxetine (known as prozac) with the saffron and found out that this last one saffron has the same effects on the brain than the drug in the treatment of depression.

Using the saffron for the therapeutic purpose

Menstrual Pains

To fight menstrual pains you can prepare a decoction of saffron, boiling 3 grams of saffron pistils in 1 litre of water for 10 minutes, and drink it far off meals, no more than 4 coffee cups a day.

Stomach cramps, dyspepsia

In case of stomach cramps or abdominal swelling, make a tincture to drink if necessary. For the tincture mix 10 grams of saffron powder with 50 grams of 70° alcohol and just leave it for 2 days, stiring once or twice a day, then filter and drink 30-40 drops in a little water when necessary.

Insomnia and depression

To make a sedative against insomnia or depression, you just need to prepare an infusion with 2 grams of saffron stigmas, 10 grams of passion-flower and 10 grams of valerian in 1 litre of water; drink this infusion at night before going to sleep.

How to use saffron in cooking

The use of saffron in cooking goes back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, that made use of it to flavour foods but also to dye cloths. Today the saffron may be used in any kind of dishes, salty or sweet, from entrées to desserts, but it is best with risotti and dishes chiefly made of fish or white meat. It is suitable to season mild flavoured vegetables, like zucchini. In the Middle East saffron is usually used for many different cakes.

Contra-indications, collateral effects and interactions of the saffron

Saffron is toxic if it is taken in large quantity. Unpleasant collateral effects may already appear taking 5 grams of this spice and taking 20 grams of it is even lethal! Because of this, saffron is also considered a natural medicine to abort; therefore it is highly recommended to not use this spice in pregnancy or nursing. Warning: do not take more than 1,5/2 grams of saffron per day.

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