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Saffron (Crocus Sativus)

The reddish orange stigmas of a special variety of crocus are the source of saffron. Although saffron originated in Arabia, the plant was brought to Spain in the eighth century, and today that country is the major exporter of the spice. Saffron is costly, selling for as much as $50 an ounce, because approximately 200000 dried stigmas from about 70000 flowers are needed to produce just one pound. Although it has a long history of use in natural medicine, saffron has fallen out of favour as a curative due to its price. It is still popular as a culinary herb, however, because a little goes a long way; just a pinch of saffron lends a distinctive flavour and color to rice dishes, pastries and soups. Indeed, adding saffron to your diet may be well worth the cost. One medical study suggests that the low rate of heart disease in spain is due partly to the liberal use of saffron in Spanish cooking.

Saffron salve for gout symptoms
Rubbing a salve made from saffron into achy joints is an old folk remedy for gout/ Because of saffron's high price, it is unlikely that you will find it ready made in health food stores. You can make your own, however, by blending a few threads of saffron into petroleum jelly. Spread a thin layer of the salve on the affected areas in the morning and evening. Use the salve until the joint pain abates.

Therapeutic effect
Saffron alleviates fatigue and exhaustion, primarily because it works to strengthen the heart and nervous system. It aids digestion, by increasing appetite and gastric juice production. When added to some homeopathic preparations, it also relieves nosebleeds.

Saffron contains the carotenoids crocin and crocetin, which are responsible for the reddish orange color of the stigmas. The stigmas also contain the aromatic essential oil safranal. Other constituents of saffron are cineol and pinene, as well as the substance picrocrocin (saffron bitters). Saffron is also high in thiamine and riboflavin.

Saffron milk
Saffron milks is a flavourful, soothing drink that can be helpful in relieving cardiac problems. To make it, bring 1 cup of milk just to boil, add a pinch of saffron. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture for 2 minutes. Sweeten it with honey to taste and drink it once a day.

Extra Tip : Rubbing your gums with saffron is an herbal remedy that reduces soreness and inflammation. Crush a few threads of saffron into a powder. Use your index finger to massage it gently into your gums. You can mix the saffron with honey, if you wish.

Saffron tincture

Use this tincture to improve your mood and to eliminate any mental blocks

  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 ½ oz. 100 proof alcohol

Put both ingredients into a covered glass jar. Steep for 14 days. Transfer some to a bottle with a dropper, and store the rest in a cool dark place. Place 10-20 drops on the tongue as needed to elevate mood.

Saffron-Ginger tonic

This tonic can be used for appetite loss, a too full feeling and digestive problems

  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • ¼ oz. gingerroot, finely chopped
  • 1 pint 100-proof alcohol

Crush the spices with a mortar and pestle. Place the spices and alcohol in a covered glass container. Let the mixture steep for 14 days in a cool, dark place. Pour it in a pan and heat briefly; strain. Take 1 tbsp. of the tonic before meals

Saffron for sluggishness

Saffron oil is helpful for general fatigue. To make a tincture, add a few threads of saffron to 1 cup of vegetable oil. Take 2 drops in water 4 times a day.

Kitchen Hints

  • Be careful when buying saffron, because it is ometimes adulterated with other spices. True saffron is expensive and has a deep-orange to brownish-red color. The redder the strands, the better the quality. Yellow saffron has no curative properties.
  • Choose whole saffron threads over powdered saffron because the threads have a better flavour
  • Store saffron in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
  • Don't add saffron threads directly to foods, the flavour is better distributed when the spice is first allowed to soften in a little warm water. Wait until the water takes on a yellow color and then add it to the dish
  • Use saffron sparingly in recipes, because adding too much can produce a bitter taste. In addition, a large dose of saffron may make you feel ill, and more than 1/3 oz. can be fatal.