Benefits of Saffron
There are supposedly several beneficial uses of saffron. Benefits may include treating depression, asthma, atherosclerosis, and painful menstrual periods, among other conditions. There is some evidence that saffron may have anti-cancer effects and may help lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Saffron is also sometimes used topically to help with certain conditions, such as baldness. It is not known if medicinal uses of saffron are safe for children.
Saffron crocus is a flowering plant that is usually used as a spice. However, it is also used in herbal supplements. Saffron supplements are often claimed to help with the following conditions:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
- Whooping cough
- Fright and shock
- Spitting up blood
- Painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Premature ejaculation
- Dry skin
- Baldness (when applied to the scalp).
Some of these benefits of saffron are more valid than others (see Does Saffron Work? for more information). As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of saffron are sometimes exaggerated, and these claims must be evaluated critically. Most importantly, it is essential to remember that natural products should not be used carelessly, as many can be quite toxic (for instance, many poisons are natural products).
It is not exactly clear how saffron works. It seems that there are a few different active compounds in it. Early research indicates that some of these compounds may have anti-cancer activity, may stimulate the secretion of stomach acids, and can stimulate the contraction of smooth muscles (such as the uterus). Compounds in saffron may also have some effects on lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.