How long have people been using Saffron?
When thinking of Saffron most people imagine wonderful culinary creations such as Persian or Indian aromatic rice dishes, desserts and sauces or delicious bouillabaisse, paella and risotto. Saffron has been employed outside of the kitchen since ancient times. For thousands of years, Saffron has been used in remedies and dyes. The medicinal history of Saffron is as rich and varied as its culinary and artistic usage.
Though Satiereal Saffron and the spice Saffron are derived from different parts of the Saffron crocus, or Crocus sativus (a flower found in the Mediterranean), both contain safranal. Safranal is an organic compound that gives the spice its aromatic scent. It is also rich in antioxidants and contributes to the medicinal value.
One of the earliest known uses of Saffron is by the Sumerian civilization who placed it in remedies. There is wide range of archeological evidence demonstrating the varied usage of saffron throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In Imperial Rome, it was used in aromatic baths and public halls because they believed it to have healing qualities.
Pre-historic paintings found in the middle east that back 50,000 years used Saffron to create the pigments. Saffron has been a valued spice of trade in dating back to 2000 BC and even Alexander the Great was a fan of Saffron for baths and healing of wounds. Saffron has been cultivated in many parts of the world – even the Pennsylvania Dutch were growing it in the 1700′s.
Persians are thought to have been the first to use Saffron to treat depression or “melancholia.” Its use as an antidepressant spread throughout the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Along with treating anxiety and depression, it was used to sooth stomachs, suppress appetite and manage alcohol addiction. Some cultures also combined it with other herbs to treat a long list of health issues from respiratory disorders (such as asthma) to cardiovascular diseases, and rheumatism to viral infections (such as colds, measles and chickenpox). Saffron has continued to be used in traditional medicine throughout the centuries.
While modern science has yet to confirm the legitimacy of all of the historical uses of Saffron, it has confirmed its use for mood enhancement and appetite control in several clinical studies. Through the growing awareness of Saffron’s beneficial qualities, North and South America are now sharing more in this rich history. Today we are seeing a huge resurgence in the use of Saffron for a variety of medicinal and positive, life enhancing benefits.