Read on to find out how Saffron is taking its well-earned spot within the wellness industry as one of the top therapeutic spices for the modern age.
Saffron – Add a New Spice to your Life
Saffron’s beautiful golden colour will no doubt be a familiar sight in some of your favourite cuisines, its unmistakable aromatic flavour transforms any dish with its striking taste.
It’s a spice that can satisfy sweet and savoury tastebuds, but it’s much more than just a faithful cooking spice tucked away in your cupboard.
There’s a rich and vibrant history behind one of the world’s most eclectic spices and we’ve put together some food for thought. We’re sure you’ll start to look at saffron in a different way - it’s a spice with a huge range of uses, let’s look at a few of them.
What is Saffron?
Not to be confused for a herb, saffron’s a spice that’s sourced from stigmas of the plant Crocus sativus, part of the iris flower family. It’s thought to have originated in Iran which now accounts for 90% of saffron growth and prospers in climates with hot, dry summer breezes, full sunlight and semi-arid lands. And saffron is now grown in several countries, from Northern Spain to Afghanistan.
Known for its traditional medicinal qualities, saffron’s been generously used throughout history to tackle ailments, fight disease and for cosmetic purposes too. Its most popular use is of course in cooking and you’ll find it in a wide range of cuisines, from Indian to Persian – adding colour and flavour. Saffron threads were also used in Ancient Persian textiles, involved in religious rituals and used in dyes and perfumes.
The spice is made up of 3 carotenoid compounds - safranal, crocetin, crocin. Crocin is the chemical primarily responsible for the colour of saffron, safranal possesses high antioxidant levels and picrocrocin accounts for saffron’s distinctive taste.
Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system developed in India, teaches the invigorating and nourishing self-healing components of saffron too.
It’s certainly got some interesting rumours woven into its rich heritage, as Cleopatra was said to infuse her bathwater with saffron, whilst Alexander the Great used it to treat his wounds and drank saffron tea!
That’s not all, the spice was used to treat the bubonic plague - no small feat. Europe found itself importing large quantities to counteract the Black Death in the 14th century.
What are the health benefits of Saffron?
Saffron’s become a bit of an all-rounder when it comes to skincare and it’s often used as an ingredient because of its pharmacological qualities.
As we mentioned, the crocin in saffron gives it its reddish colour, but the fact it’s a powerful antioxidant is great for removing dirt and pollution from skin too. It acts as a barrier between the skin and environmental factors like smoke and pollution.
Not to mention, it’s got good levels of vitamin C, reduces lines on the skin, lifts, firms and hydrates and brightens skin. No wonder people are swearing by it!
Saffron has a strong historic reputation when it comes to health benefits and more and more modern scientific research is being conducted surrounding its healing properties.
An area of research that’s especially significant is the suggested effect that saffron can have on the way we treat mental health conditions, predominantly nervousness and low mood-related illness.
With approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year – people are looking for supplementary solutions and alternative therapies to help with alleviating low mood.
And the research being conducted suggests a positive link between saffron and tackling low-mood. In a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial including 60 subjects over 12 weeks, researchers found that saffron had a significant impact on anxiety and depression disorders.
Our product, Saffrosun is scientifically proven to help improve symptoms of nervousness, low mood, quality of sleep and overall wellbeing.
We’re sure you can vouch that even if one of those elements is out of focus or off-kilter, it can have a big effect on your day to day life and bring down your mood.
How does Saffrosun help to combat low-mood? Well, the bioactive agents, crocin, safranal and picrocrocin are made up of protective phytochemicals that act as a natural anti-inflammatory and a potent anti-oxidant.
The saffron we use in Saffrosun is carefully hand-picked, dried, milled, extracted, concentrated and tested to make sure that the correct levels of bioactives have been achieved.
Our cells produce serotonin, which is a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells, mainly in your digestive system. Low levels of serotonin are widely thought to influence your mood, emotional wellbeing and sleep – all super important.
On top of this, research has shown saffron to have neuroprotective effects, which has an impact on serotonin production, which is linked to low-mood and gastric health. Saffron limits inflammation and is an anti-oxidant so it removes damaging agents in the body, which helps to enhance the production of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin.
Read Eleanor's Story about how Saffrosun helped her manage menopause symptoms.
Childhood and Teenage Anxiety
It’s thought that in the UK, 1 in 10 schoolchildren have a diagnosable mental health condition. Often this manifests itself as anxiety or depressive disorders, which can affect mood and behaviour. This makes everyday situations difficult for children in lots of ways - to concentrate at school, socialise and thrive in their formative years.
Research carried out by Murdoch University looked into the ways that saffron could potentially be used as part of a treatment plan for adolescents experiencing symptoms of depression.
An 8-week study was carried out with a control group taking a placebo and another group taking saffron supplements twice daily. Results showed that after 8 weeks, the group taking saffron were reporting lower depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Saffron could be a really useful side-effect free form of treatment for low-mood and nervousness in adolescents that aren’t at a stage where medicinal intervention is appropriate. It can also be made more palatable to younger people by cooking with saffron or using it in something more fun like a smoothie.
Improvement in Menopausal Symptoms
There has been partial research into the effects that botanical supplements can have on women experiencing menopausal symptoms too. American researchers did look into and find evidence that saffron was having a positive impact on hot flushes and other symptoms.
The menopause is often attributed with depressive symptoms, low-mood and anxiety, therefore the links between saffron and serotonin production can help to alleviate these issues for women living with disruptive menopausal symptoms that affect their daily life and mood.
How should I take Saffron?
Now we’ve touched on some of the health benefits of saffron, let’s discuss the ways that you can add this savvy spice to your lifestyle.
Saffron comes from the dried stigmas of the saffron crocus and looks like a reddish thread – the general consensus is that the deeper the red, the better the quality. You can release saffron’s flavour and distinctive aroma by warming the threads for a few seconds and then infusing them in liquid for a minute or two.
Once you’ve released the flavour, you can get creative and add it to you cooking for a nutritional hit – perhaps a paella, a risotto or maybe your favourite curry. Or it can be added to honey for an extra kick, put it in water or another drink, use it as a natural essential oil or in a gel.
You can also try adding Saffrosun to your daily latte – get your morning caffeine fix with an extra twist! Experiment by adding turmeric and cinnamon to get the taste just right for you.
When you’re using saffron threads in cooking and you’re looking to benefit from its health properties, it’s difficult to know whether each dish will have an effective amount of saffron in it.
It could take a while to work out the specific quantities, timings and cooking processes that you need to make sure you’re making the most of your saffron. For a beginner, that’s a tough ask, especially if you want to start getting results as soon as possible for a health issue that you’ve got.
No need to worry with our Saffrosun capsules, as every batch is specified and tested, so that the minimum levels of active requirements are present. Testing is a really important part of our production process and it ensures you’re getting the very best, every time.
What’s even better is the regional quality of the saffron we pick for our capsules. We pick saffron from Catalonia in Northern Spain, which produces the highest strength of saffron (3.5%) with the 3 bioactives we’re looking for (crocin, safranal and picrocrocin). Catalonia enjoys ideal temperatures and soil conditions to grow the saffron we’re after.
Using saffron in a capsule form like Saffrosun is also really beneficial because it gets to work in the gut where lots of hormones like serotonin are produced – delivering straight to the target areas.
Does Saffron have any side-effects?
Like anything else, when you start introducing a new element into your diet or self-care routine, it’s important to do your research. Are there any adverse side-effects that you need to worry about or be aware of?
With saffron, there are no known side-effects which means the crocus sativus stigma extract we use in our capsules is a great option for a supplement or to use as part of a treatment plan for low-mood.
Obviously, it’s important that you use Saffrosun responsibly and follow the recommended dose guidelines we’ve put together for you.
Side-effects from other Low-Mood Alternatives
- We’d strongly advise chatting with your GP about all available anti-depressants and their side-effects if you decide together that medicinal treatment is the way forward for treating low mood – anti-depressants vary and there are a lot of different options and potential side-effects, so doing research is key.
- St John’s wort is a very common herbal treatment for low-mood, probably the most popular and can be found on the high-street but it doesn’t come without side-effects. People that have experienced side-effects have reported feeling nauseous, being sick or diarrhoea, headaches, allergic reactions, tiredness, dizziness, confusion, a dry mouth and skin problems.
It’s important to remember that treating low-mood or mental health isn’t reliant on a singular treatment. There are lots of different factors to consider such as sleep quality, your lifestyle, diet and how much physical activity you do, to mention a few.
However, with Saffrosun, there’s scientific evidence to back-up the improvement of some of these symptoms of low-mood, such as stress, nervousness, low mood, quality of sleep and overall wellbeing.
If you need expert advice on your health condition, please contact our pharmacist on (+44) 01483 685630.
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