Posted on Feb 08, 2019, 10 p.m.
Widely used saffron is quietly and effectively helping to protect health each time it is consumed; researchers report if is full of protective phytochemicals that help to shield the body from disease.
Saffron improves, colour, scent, and taste of many dishes and beverages, and is a natural food preservative, fabric dye, and perfume with a sweet metallic scent. It is also widely used in traditional medicines around the world as its original use long before it found its way into the kitchen and as a cosmetic ingredient.
Saffron is used as an analgesic and has anti-inflammatory properties that are said to support healthy functions of the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, gastrointestinal system, respiratory system, and genitourinary system.
It is used in traditional medicines to treat eye diseases, infectious diseases, and skin diseases. Saffron has attracted attention in recent years due to its beneficial effects on symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases and various forms of cancer. Medicinal effects are thought to come from phytochemicals in saffron crocus; analysis of the herb has identified over 150 chemicals, but the important ones are crocins and safranal.
Cricins are carotenoid compounds in the flower of saffron crocus that are responsible for the bright colour; main active constituent croncins have been tested as adjunctive treatments for disorders and disease of the central nervous system. Crocetin makes up the central core of the complex compound and it exerts much of the same neuroprotective effects, helps to reduce feelings of tiredness, improves sleep quality, and helps to protects the retinas.
Safranal is the primary component of essential oil which helps to stop severe convulsions, is a strong antioxidant, shows promise as an antidepressant, and has demonstrated strong cytotoxic effects on cancer cells in animals and humans.
Mashhad University of Medical Sciences conducted a comprehensive review involving various papers on the medicinal effects of saffron and its constituents, the majority of which confirmed the health benefits of the herbs on a wide variety of diseases. Coronary artery diseases and neurodegenerative disease were the most common groups, specific diseases included colds, bronchitis, and asthma; diabetes was also looked at as another disorder that may be improved by a saffron based treatment. Literature also examined the means in which saffron and its components improved symptoms and conditions of patients; antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and inflammatory activities of the herb were considered.
Saffron was found to boost natural antioxidant capacity of the body and neutralize free radicals that harm cells and tissues which reduces the chances of inflammation. Saffron can help to control release of inflammatory mediators and resulting reactions of the immune system; and handles immune response triggered by macromolecules in body fluids.
Based on findings researchers suggest the anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant properties of the herb make it a potentially effective means of treating multiple diseases.
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