Saffron is known to most people as a culinary herb, imparting a rich flavor to risotto and rice dishes, soups, warming drinks and many other dishes. It comes from the stamins of the saffron flower, a type of crocus that grows in the mid-East. Saffron contains the carotenoids crocin and crocetin which, like other carotenoids, are powerful antioxidants.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine holds that saffron is one spice that pacifies all three doshas - vata (air, movement), pitta (fire, metabolism), and kapha (water/earth, structure). As such it is a lovely addition to bedtime hot milk since it soothes imbalances that can keep you awake.
A number of research studies in recent years have been reporting benefits from saffron, or rather from the major components of saffron crocin, crocetin and safranal, for a number of health and vision conditions. This support comes from saffron's capacity as an antioxidant, anti-inflammation agent, neuro-protection agent, and protection of photoreceptors, support of blood sugar balance, and protection against protein clumping that gives rise to cataracts.
- Supports retina health and may be beneficial for macular degeneration. See research on saffron and macular degeneration.
- Supports health of the eye's lenses. See research on saffron and cataract prevention
- Protects against common complications of diabetes. See research on saffron and diabetic retinopathy.
- Supports health of brain synapses resulting in protection of memory. See research on saffron and memory.
The best whole saffron (usually Persian) has no yellow threads (usually European).
We offer saffron capsules in our shop, and you can make saffron tea. Add about 10 red saffron threads (about 20mg of saffron) to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, add another cup of boiling water to bring it back up to temperature, and let it steep another 10 minutes. Sip the tea. If you want to make a second batch with the same threads you can do so about three times until the threads lose their color. You can also take the threads raw or in cooked food. Most clinical trials have used 20mg of saffron per dose, taken over 4 to 6 weeks.