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4 Impressive Saffron Benefits for Your Health

4 Impressive Saffron Benefits for Your Health

Written By: Emily Spring

When we’re preparing our favorite dish, we seldom look to the spice rack to provide anything other than a dash of flavor. But certain seasonings do more than garnish our plates with a touch of zestiness or umami—some may offer us a mood boost or an antioxidant top-up.

One of these stand-out spices? Saffron.

Saffron strands may appear small and unassuming, but there’s a whole slew of goodness packed into these tiny flowers. And while it’s typically added as a flavor elevator and color coordinator—particularly for its vibrant red pop—you can keep this spice nearby for an added health booster.

Let’s dig into all the mouth-watering, healthy benefits of saffron.

Why Is Saffron Beneficial for Health?

Frequently touted as a botanical remedy in ancient times, saffron has a long history of use in food and medicine. Many of these folk medical traditions are now backed by modern scientific findings, which have spurred modern scientists to keep researching the expanding list of ways saffron could support health and wellness.

These benefits come down to the bioactive compounds contained in saffron, including:1

  • Crocin, a carotenoid that gives saffron its characteristic red color
  • Picrocrocin, which contributes to a bitter taste
  • Safranal, which is responsible for saffron’s distinctive scent

This trifecta of compounds is thought to contribute to the numerous potential benefits you may relish from including saffron in your diet.

What are those benefits?

#1 Saffron Is A Mood Booster

There may be more behind that happiness you feel when sharing laughs with friends over a saffron-infused meal: Saffron has been extensively studied for its mood-enhancing qualities, and it’s even being researched for its potential to support mental well-being. Create a morning routine to make you happy by incorporating mushroom gummies into your daily regimen.

Specifically, several pre-clinical and clinical studies were conducted to determine saffron’s applications in counteracting symptoms related to:

  • Psychiatric disorders – Some research indicates saffron may work to support dopamine production, potentially alleviating symptoms related to conditions like depression and anxiety.1
  • ADHD – The same dopamine-boosting abilities that may combat anxiety and depression have also been studied in relation to ADHD. In one study, saffron was found to soothe ADHD symptoms.2
https://www.plantpeople.co/collections/herbal-capsules

#2 Saffron for Sleep

Taking a sleep aid that contains saffron may help to support a longer, more high-quality night’s rest—particularly in individuals who may already struggle with insomnia or other mild to moderate sleep disorders.3

Compared with a placebo, one double-blind clinical trial showed the herb has the potential to support better sleep on three counts:4

  • Improving sleep quality overall
  • Reducing sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep)
  • Lengthening sleep duration

Researchers suspect saffron’s sleep-enhancing effects may be related to hormones: When taken before bed, saffron could help give your body a melatonin boost. Melatonin is an essential hormone for helping ease the body into a state of calm before bedtime—a crucial part of regulating circadian rhythm, and helping to get your internal clock back on track.

Moreover, saffron’s potential mood-boosting properties could work to make it just as useful in promoting a better night’s rest. As anyone who’s ever tossed and turned in the night knows, managing stress can critically influence sleep quality—and leaning on herbal allies to ease our bodies and minds may help make our nightly Zzs that much more restorative.

#3 Saffron Is A Powerful Antioxidant

Saffron is suspected of having powerful antioxidant properties—i.e., it may help our bodies flush out damaging free radicals, thereby preventing oxidative stress.

Each antioxidative herb, fruit, or veggie typically comes with a set of health benefits that could assist individual systems within the body. Where saffron is concerned, here are just some of its antioxidant-related advantages:

  • Encouraging healthy weight maintenance – Promising studies show saffron’s potential to help maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, it may help to prevent obesity and a suite of metabolic disorders due to its suspected ability to help regulate appetite.5
  • Improving cognitive function – Some research indicates saffron serves to enhance memory, and it’s currently being studied for its potential to support individuals with neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.1
  • Combatting inflammation – An extensive 2019 review on saffron’s anti-inflammatory properties revealed the herb may help modulate inflammation, particularly in people with immune-related disorders.6 According to researchers, saffron’s key bioactive compounds may make it a useful herb to treat and even prevent conditions like asthma, allergies, and atherosclerosis.6
  • Promoting heart health – Incorporating saffron into your diet or supplement rotation may help to keep your hardest working muscle from missing a beat. A suite of recent studies indicates that the riboflavin in saffron may not only lower the risk of heart disease, but it may have protective effects on those who already have it.7 It does so by lowering blood pressure levels, thus reducing cholesterol and chances of clogged arteries.

#4 Saffron Is Good For Your Skin

Saffron has been making a splash in the world of health and beauty, and it’s recently made appearances on the ingredients of serums, face masks, moisturizers, and more.

But what makes saffron such a sterling skin ally? The answer may trace back to its antioxidative properties.8 When used on its own—or in combination with powerhouse moisturizing, protective compounds like hyaluronic acid and vitamin E—saffron may lead to visibly calmer, brighter, smoother-looking skin.8

But saffron’s skin benefits aren’t solely superficial: Saffron is also being studied for its potential to shield the skin from harmful UV rays, making it an excellent naturally-derived companion to cosmetic sunscreens.9 Plus, some research indicates that saffron extract may be a powerful treatment for burns when applied topically, helping to expedite skin healing and regeneration.10

Other Benefits of Saffron

While these are the more impressive health benefits of saffron, here are other lesser-known benefits:

  • If you want to improve your eye health, taking saffron can also improve eyesight among adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  • Saffron can also help those with problems with mental health, especially moderate depression. The stigma threads, in particular, have beneficial properties to treat mild to moderate depression.
  • For people who want to create a healthy eating schedule, saffron can help. If you take a saffron supplement every day with your meals, then you may experience less urges to snack and have better focus at work.
  • While the saffron strands are the most coveted part, it turns out saffron petals are also valued due to their wound healing properties.

How To Take Saffron

So, you’re intrigued by saffron’s reported mood-boosting properties or its potential to impart an incandescent glow to your skin.

Now the only question is: How can you incorporate enough of this ultra-fine herb so that your wellness regimen can reap the benefits?

Whether you apply it topically or make it a staple spice in your pantry, enlisting saffron into your routine is easier than you might think:

  • Drink it as a beverage – Saffron can be easily found in some popular herbal tea blends. That said, you can also make your own bright orange beverage by boiling it with water and other herbs to taste. Kesar milk, an Indian beverage that features saffron, is just one popular way to drink the many benefits of the herb.
  • Ingest it in extract form – Saffron extract, a more potent form of the herb, can be found alongside other herbal supplements in pharmacies, supermarkets, or health food stores. You’ll typically encounter it in liquid or capsule form on the shelves. Be sure to read the package’s instructions and take it in its recommended dosage. Most liquid extracts are designed to be ingested, but you may even be able to use some formulas topically.
  • Take it as a blend – While you can take saffron in isolation, many herbalists may advise trying the herb alongside other complementary plant-based ingredients. Herbal blends can be an excellent way to reinforce the properties of each constituent in the formula at hand. For saffron, that means looking for other calming, uplifting ingredients (we love passiflora and reishi!)
  • Use it as a spice – Saffron is best known as a culinary spice, which means you can seamlessly slide it into your diet by adding it to food. Novice chefs, take note: When you’re seasoning food with saffron, a little goes a long way. Use it in recipes to add a bold dash of color and a subtle, earthy flavor to your favorite meals. In Persian recipes and rice-based dishes, you’ll find saffron is a go-to herb.11

  • Can Saffron Be Taken Daily?

    Saffron is generally considered safe to be taken daily as an oral nutrition supplement. While the average daily dose recommendation is around 30mg per day, doses up to 1.5g per day are considered safe. Negative effects may appear in doses of 5g or more.12

    Does Saffron Have Any Side Effects?

    Most studies haven’t found any worrisome side effects from saffron consumption, either as a supplement or when used within the recommended dosage parameters. Consult with your healthcare provider if you encounter any troubling side effects or changes or if you experience any allergic reactions.

    Why Is Saffron So Expensive?

    Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world, and with good reason. Saffron is made from the pistil of the crocus flower, and the harvesting process is laborious and time-consuming. Each crocus flower contains five pistils, and they need to be plucked delicately by hand from the center of the petals.

    Don’t let the high price tag deter you, though. When it comes to saffron’s many therapeutic benefits, a little goes a long way.

    Give Your Body A Botanical Boost with Plant People

    For such a feather-light herb, saffron is clinically proven to tout some heavy-hitting health benefits. However, saffron is an expensive spice, so another way to take saffron daily is to find a quality health product with saffron.

    You can slide this spice into your routine seamlessly with WonderSleep Mushroom Gummies—your bedside table’s new BFF. A combination of saffron and other soothing plant-based ingredients like corydalis, passion flower, and reishi “queen of mushrooms,” this blend was designed to summon deeper Zzs and leave you feeling energized the next day.

    At Plant People, we believe in the science-backed power of plants and mushrooms to help us achieve whole-body wellness. Take our short quiz for a customized shopping experience that meets your body’s needs and your long-term wellness goals.

     

    Written by Emily Spring

    Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.

     

    Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy

    Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named toForbes 30 under 30Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.

    Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at hiswebsite.


    Sources:

    1. Frontiers in Pharmacology. Neuroprotective Potency of Saffron Against Neuropsychiatric Diseases, Neurodegenerative Diseases, and Other Brain Disorders: From Bench to Bedside. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2020.579052/full#
    2. Psychology Today. Saffron: A Promising Herbal Treatment of ADHD. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201904/saffron-promising-herbal-treatment-adhd
    3. National Library of Medicine. Effects of saffron on sleep quality in healthy adults with self-reported poor sleep: a randomized, double-bind, placebo-controlled trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32056539/
    4. National Library of Medicine. Effects of Saffron Extract on Sleep Quality: A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Clinical Trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33925432/
    5. Antioxidants. Saffron: A Natural Potent Antioxidant as a Promising Anti-Obesity Drug. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/
    6. National Institute of Health. Immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of Crocus sativus (Saffron) and its main active constituents: A review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6535192/
    7. National Institute of Health. Cardiovascular Effects of Saffron: An Evidence-Based Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466873
    8. Byrdie. Saffron, the World's Most Expensive Spice, Is Also Amazing for Your Skin. https://www.byrdie.com/saffron-skincare-4777023
    9. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. Does Saffron Have Antisolar and Moisturizing Effects? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3862060/
    10. Planta Medica. Effectiveness of a Crocus sativus Extract on Burn Wounds in Rats. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29791931/
    11. Serious Eats. How to Use Saffron. https://www.seriouseats.com/how-to-use-saffron
    12. Drugs.com. Saffron. https://www.drugs.com/npp/saffron.html
    13. Advanced Biomedical Research. Saffron for the Management of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7792881/
    14. PMC4665515/
    15. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. Effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) on sexual dysfunction among men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6727438/
    16. Cleveland Clinic. How Saffron Could Benefit Your Health. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/benefits-of-saffron/
    17. Frontiers in Nutrition. Effects of Saffron Extract Supplementation on Mood, Well-Being, and Response to a Psychosocial Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel Group, Clinical Trial. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2020.606124/full
    18. Molecules. Medicinal Plants Used for Anxiety, Depression, or Stress Treatment: An Update. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/27/18/6021/htm
    19. Nutrition Today. Saffron: Potential Health Benefits. https://journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/fulltext/2020/11000/saffron__potential_health_benefits.9.aspx

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