Saffron comes from the carefully dried pistils of the crocus “Crocus sativus”, an evergreen plant, which reaches a height of up to 30cm. Each flower has three female pistils and two male stamens.
The taste, aroma, and color of Saffron are only contained in the red part, the tip of the pistil. Saffron is a spice that has been used by humans since ancient times, and it is one of the costliest spices in the world.
Phytochemical researches have revealed that the color of saffron is mainly due to the degraded carotenoid ingredients, crocin, and crocetin, while the flavor comes from the carotenoid oxidation products, mainly safranal; and the bitter taste comes from glucoside picrocrocin.
Saffron contains more than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding natural compounds. It also has many nonvolatile active components, many of which are carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene, and various a- and ß-carotenes.
When saffron is dried after its harvest, the heat, combined with enzymatic action, splits picrocrocin to yield D–glucose-rich products and a free safranal molecule. Safranal, a volatile oil, gives saffron much of its distinctive aroma.
Unlike Pomifera oil which is derived from seeds, Kesar oil is derived from the flowers.
How is saffron oil made?
Saffron oil is prepared from a saffron flower’s stigma by solvent extraction; the oil has almost the same characteristics as the spice.
Usually, saffron flowers and crimson threads derived from the flowers are infused in cold-pressed sweet almond oil.
Is Saffron soluble in oil?
Saffron essential oil contains two main carotenoids; crocin and crocetin. Crocetin is a conjugated polyene dicarboxylic acid that is hydrophobic, and thus oil-soluble. Crocin is water soluble.
Does saffron increase testosterone?
In the light of saffron antioxidants’ effects in the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, it seems that saffron can affect the male sexual hormones concentration. Saffron administration improves sperm parameters in mice probably through increasing blood testosterone levels. Most changes that occur on testicle tissue and spermatogenesis process following saffron consumption are probably due to elevation of testosterone levels.
However, studies have reported that saffron administration for 26 weeks to the infertile men with idiopathic oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT) had no effects on semen parameters.
Saffron may improve sperm count, motility and vitality in mice treated with cadmium; therefore, it could be useful for the treatment of infertile men who were exposed to cadmium.
Saffron Oil in the Market– Saffron Oil– Kesar by Botanical Beauty
Botanical Beauty wild growth saffron oil, also popularly called Kesar oil or zafran oil is produced by steam distilled of saffron flowers and crimson threads derived from the saffron flowers and infused in cold-pressed sweet almond oil.
It gets absorbed quickly, is non-greasy, chemical-free, not tested on animals, and does not contain any preservatives.
It is a healing oil -an elixir for face, skin, hair, scalp, lip and nails care, in massage oil or bath oil. It is a skin antioxidant oil with healing, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, exfoliate, and restorative properties. It can be used topically for damaged skin like burns, wounds, cuts, scars, itchy, scaly, irritated skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Lightweight, fast, and easily absorbable, Saffron Oil by Botanical Beauty has been reported to have skin brightening and lightening properties and can help to promote skin texture that giving the skin a natural glow. It is also an excellent moisturizer and skin conditioner.
Offered at around 15 USD for a 15ml bottle, this product is a good bargain considering the multiple benefits of saffron oil and its high cost of production.
Saffron contains more than 150 volatile components giving dishes cooked with saffron its unique aroma. Since many of the components are hydrophobic, adding a bit of alcohol will add to their release.
What is saffron oil used for?
Saffron is not only used as a spice in cooking to add seducing aroma and luminescent gold yellow color to meals(also known as “red gold”) but can also unfold many different healing effects when used correctly.
1. A Powerful Antioxidant
Saffron contains an impressive variety of plant compounds that act as antioxidants — molecules that protect your cells against free radicals and oxidative stress. Notable saffron antioxidants include crocin, crocetin,
2. May Improve Mood and Treat Depressive Symptoms
Saffron is nicknamed the “sunshine spice.” In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos at treating symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression. Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as Fluoxetine, Imipramine, and Citalopram — conventional treatments for depression.
While these findings are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before saffron can be recommended as a treatment for depression
3. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds have been shown to selectively kill colon cancer cells or suppress their growth, while leaving normal cells unharmed. This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and several other cancer cells.
What’s more, other test-tube studies have found that crocin — the main antioxidant in saffron — may make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.
4. May Reduce PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) Symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms occurring before the start of a menstrual period.
Studies show that saffron may help treat PMS symptoms. In women 20–45 years of age, taking 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than a placebo at treating PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, cravings,
5. May Act as an Aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiacs are foods or supplements that help boost your libido. Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties — especially in people taking antidepressants.
For instance, taking 30 mg of saffron daily over four weeks significantly improved erectile function over a placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction.
In women with low sexual desire due to taking antidepressants, 30 mg of saffron daily over four weeks reduced sex-related pain and increased sexual desire and lubrication, compared to a placebo.
6. May Reduce Appetite and Aid Weight Loss
In one eight-week study, women taking saffron supplements felt significantly more full, snacked
less frequently, and lost significantly more weight than women in the placebo group.
In another eight-week study, taking a saffron extract supplement helped significantly reduce appetite, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and total fat mass.
However, scientists are unsure how saffron curbs appetite and aids weight loss. One theory is that saffron elevates your mood, which in turn reduces your desire for food.
7. Other health benefits
May reduce heart disease risk factors:
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that saffron’s antioxidant properties may lower blood cholesterol and prevent blood vessels and arteries from clogging .
May lower blood sugar levels:
Saffron may lower blood sugar levels and raise insulin sensitivity — as seen in test-tube studies and mice with diabetes.
May improve eyesight in adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD):
Saffron appears to improve eyesight in adults with AMD and protect against free radical damage, which is linked to AMD.
May improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease: Saffron’s antioxidant properties may improve cognition in adults with Alzheimer’s disease.
How to use saffron properly in the kitchen?
Soak 1 gram of saffron threads, optionally crushed in a mortar, in 100 ml of 60 °C warm milk, water or wine. Saffron is water, not fat soluble.
The lactic or tartaric acid attacks the cells of the saffron threads and releases flavor and color. After about 20 minutes you will have a strong aromatic yellow solution. Add this to your food. Use no more than 0.2 g saffron – which is about one teaspoon saffron threads coated- per food serving.
Side Effects of Saffron
As a dietary supplement, people can safely take up to 1.5 grams of saffron per day. However, only 30 mg of saffron per day have been shown to be enough to reap its health benefits .
On the other hand, high doses of 5 grams or more can have toxic effects. Pregnant women should avoid high doses, as it may cause miscarriage.
Saffron is a powerful spice high in antioxidants. Saffron essential oil has been linked to health benefits, such as improved mood, libido, and sexual function, as well as reduced PMS symptoms and enhanced weight loss.
It is generally safe for most people and easy to add to your diet and application as a drug. Try incorporating saffron into your favorite dishes to take advantage of its potential health benefits; also it can be used for various ailments.