Saffron is not just a spice that can used to flavor and add rich color to food. It also has a rich history of medicinal uses. These days it is not particularly known for it medicinal properties, but in the ancient world it was highly prized for those qualities.
It is derived from a flower- the crocus sativus– or Saffron Crocus. When purchased it is almost always found in dried, thin thread-like pieces. These threads are actually the stigmas of the Saffron Crocus flower. The flower is a lovely lavender color with the vibrant red stigmas in the center. Because the threads are hand picked, and each flower only produces four, Saffron is the worlds most expensive spice.
Saffron can be eaten (as a flavoring), brewed in a tea, or purchased in supplement form. It has a calming and balancing effect when consumed- so it is believed it works as an anti-depressant. The calming balancing effect also helps with sleep problems. Drinking some Saffron mixed with another calming herb (perhaps Chamomile) can be a relaxing sleep aid.
It is also believed to be good for asthmatics. While not medically proven, it is said to clear the airways and prevent lung inflammation. Saffron is also an antioxidant, and taken as a supplement can help to regulate menstruation.
Upcoming posts on Saffron: Chicken and Yellow Rice recipe and The Saffron Atlantis Connection. Check back!