Interested in learning more about the world’s most expensive spice?
As well as being a delicious addition to your cooking, saffron actually offers an array of benefits for your health, which we dive into below.
In this article, you’ll find out
- What saffron is
- 10 of the best saffron benefits
- Saffron benefits for male health
- If saffron increases testosterone
- If saffron can help erectile dysfunction
- How to use it
- How much saffron is safe to take
- Potential side effects
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice that comes from the crocus sativus flower, which is commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. It has been cultivated over thousands of years by people in Asia Minor for a wide variety of uses.
In order to make the spice, the stigma of the flower (or it’s ‘threads’) are plucked by hand and then dried for at least 12 hours.
10 saffron health benefits
Since saffron is the most expensive spice, it’s got to offer some cracking benefits, right? Discover ten of the best saffron health benefits, below.
May support memory function
One benefit of saffron that has been explored in multiple scientific studies is its ability to support cognitive function.
For example, one review from 2015 supported the theory that it can be effective for memory and learning.1
Another review from 2016 highlighted that the reason saffron may be helpful in this area is due to its antioxidant abilities, but more on that later.
It’s also worth noting that both of these reviews did state the need for more in-depth clinical studies on using saffron for this reason.2
May help to regulate mood
Saffron is lovingly referred to as the ‘sunshine spice’ for more than just its golden hue. It has also been found to support your mood, as one particular review of five clinical studies concluded that saffron was much more effective than the placebo.3 Interestingly, although saffron stigma was most effective, saffron petals were also highlighted as being more effective than the placebo.
It is also speculated that saffron was used for mood as far back as the Ancient Greek period!
May contribute to reducing blood pressure
While most studies on the benefits of saffron have taken place on rats, a recent 2021 review looks into this, but on adult humans.
However, it noted that these effects were small and that it may not reach clinical significance to be used in mainstream medicine alone.4
It’s good for your skin
As well as having internal benefits for your health, saffron may also be able to support your skin health too.5
Equally, a more recent study from 2020 found that the combination of saffron extract and avocado oil in a face cream assisted with facial skin rejuvenation.6
It has antioxidant properties
Wondering why saffron offers so many benefits? It is likely down to it’s impressive profile of plant compounds which act as antioxidants. These include things like crocin, crocetin, kaempferol and safranal, the first two of which are what gives saffron its vivid colour!7
May reduce period pain and PMS symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome is something a lot of people experience in the run up to their period. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Mood swings
- Feeling upset, anxious or irritable
- Tiredness or trouble sleeping
- Bloating or tummy pain
- Breast tenderness
- Spotty skin
- Greasy hair
- Changes in appetite and sex drive8
May increase libido
Find it hard to get in the mood? Well, one of the benefits of saffron is that it may act as an aphrodisiac. One study on women found that those who had saffron, as opposed to the placebo, had higher levels of arousal and lubrication.9
It has also been found to support men’s sexual health too, but we’ve got a whole section on that later in the article.
May help your weight loss efforts
If you’re trying to lose weight safely and sustainably, saffron may be able to help. Various studies have shown that saffron supplements can help you feel more full and snack less frequently.10,11
Does saffron increase testosterone?
One study from 2014 concluded that saffron increased levels of testosterone in the blood of rats.13 However, further studies are needed to clarify if this is also the case with humans.
Does saffron help erectile dysfunction?
In a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials on saffron found that saffron led to positive effects on erectile dysfunction.
Saffron had a significantly positive effect on all dimensions of the erectile function questionnaire, including erectile dysfunction, orgasmic function, overall satisfaction, satisfaction with intercourse, and sexual desire.13
How to use saffron
While saffron is an aromatic addition to your meals, one of the best ways to take it is to add the threads to some hot water and allow them to soak – but make sure not to use boiling water! It is also available in supplement form.
Most supplements contain about 30mg of saffron extract, so try not to go too much over that amount per day. Although if you want further clarification, please speak to a medical professional for specialised advice.
Potential side effects of saffron
While saffron is generally safe to take, you may experience some side effects. For example, one study highlighted the following potential reactions:
- Appetite changes
- Stomach cramps14
The final say
There’s a reason why saffron is a well sought-after spice. From aiding weight loss to supporting mood, the sunshine spice boasts a range of impressive health benefits. Whether you’re adding it to sauces or taking it as a supplement, you can experience the best of what this spice has to offer.
Before taking any supplements or minerals, it’s best to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients through your diet first.
Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle
Last updated: 26 May 2022