Saffron an aphrodisiac

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saffron aphrodisiac

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus), a species of crocus in the family Iridaceae. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and colouring agent. Saffron, which has for decades been the world's most expensive spice by weight, is native to Southwest Asia. It was first cultivated in the vicinity of Greece.

Saffron is characterised by a bitter taste and an iodoform- or hay-like fragrance; these are caused by the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a carotenoid dye, crocin, that gives food a rich golden-yellow hue. These traits make saffron a much-sought ingredient in many foods worldwide. Saffron also has medicinal applications.

The word saffron originated from the 12th-century Old French term safran, which derives from the Latin word safranum. Safranum is also related to the Italian zafferano and Spanish azafrán. Safranum comes from the Arabic word aṣfar (أَصْفَر‎), which means "yellow," via the paronymous za’farān (زَعْفَرَان‎), the name of the spice in Arabic.

Saffron tastes bitter and contributes a luminous yellow-orange coloring to foods. Because of the unusual taste and colouring it adds to foods, saffron is widely used in Persian, Arab, Central Asian, European, Indian, Iranian, Moroccan and Cornish cuisines. Confectionaries and liquors also often include saffron. Medicinally, saffron has a long history as part of traditional healing; modern medicine has also discovered saffron as having anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing), anti-mutagenic (mutation-preventing), immuno-modulating, and antioxidant-like properties. Saffron has also been used as a fabric dye, particularly in China and India, and in perfumery.

According to medical studies, saffron can be used to treat depression. Beware though that too much dosage of this spice can prove lethal to one’s health. The typical dose of saffron used to treat depression was 30 mg per day, divided in two doses. At this low level, some studies found no side effects. Saffron has also been shown to be a form of sedative for some types of pain. Other research suggests that saffron may be useful for preventing cancer. The bright yellow pigment (crocetin, an unusual carotenoid) has strong antioxidant properties, and is being tested for other biological effects. Other medicinal uses of saffron includes: fevers, cramps, enlarged livers, whooping cough, gas pains, gastrointestinal colic, insomnia, asthma, anemia, hemorrhoids, headaches, and several others which are mostly anecdotal.

Historically, saffron played an essential part in the arena of ancient medicine and magical potions. Besides its value as spice and dye to clothing, the Assyrians during 7th century BC documented saffron’s use in the treatment of some 90 illnesses. Minoans portrayed saffron in their palace frescoes by 1500–1600 BC, showing saffron's use as a therapeutic drug. Ancient Mediterranean people—including perfumers in Egypt, physicians in Gaza, townspeople in Rhodes, and the Greek courtesans—used saffron in their perfumes, ointments, potpourris, mascaras, divine offerings, and medical treatments. In late Hellenistic Egypt, Cleopatra used saffron in her baths so that lovemaking would be more pleasurable, while Egyptian healers used saffron as a treatment for all varieties of gastrointestinal ailments. Aulus Cornelius Celsus, of Rome, prescribed saffron in medicines for wounds, cough, colic, and scabies, and in the mithridatium. It has been ritually offered to divinities, used in dyes, perfumes, medicines, body washes, scattered across beds, and mixed into hot teas as a curative for bouts of melancholy by ancient Persians during the 10th century BC. During his Asian campaigns, Alexander the Great used Persian saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths as a curative for battle wounds. Alexander's troops mimicked the practice and brought saffron-bathing back to Greece. Ancient Chinese medical texts were also found to document Saffron’s use in treating various medical disorders including impotence.

Part of saffron’s magical property is the enhancement of “lust”. Given that the medical findings show saffron as a substance capable of affecting the neurotransmitters, perhaps saffron may in fact be an aphrodisiac. Its ingestion is found to be a soothing relaxant capable of lowering blood pressure and stimulating the respiration. Perhaps, it could also contain properties that stimulate the libido and the erogenous zones. Some attest to its sexual properties which they believe is most effective when used by women.


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