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Saffron: The Future Treatment for Depression and Alzheimer’s Disease


This spice, renowned around the world for its rich colour, sensual aroma and delicious taste also has innumerable medicinal properties and represents a natural treatment free of secondary effects.

Its name derives from the Persian Zarparan, where Zer means “gold” and par “feather”. And while it alludes to the stigmas of the Crocus Sativus flower, from where the saffron comes, it also evokes the millenary tradition that has challenged modern harvesting methods. The high cost of the spice is explained by its rareness –– each flower produces only three stigmas, so that more than 250,000 flowers are required to produce a single kilogram of saffron.

Its delicate flavour reflects the almost ceremonial manner in which each flower is carefully handpicked, in order not to loose the 150 volatile and aromatic compounds it carries. However, the uses of saffron are not limited to fine or traditional cuisine. Its medicinal use represents an ancestral tradition which has been studied and employed in modern medicine. A series of recent studies have showed that saffron has properties that help people overcome anxiety, inflammation, depression, hypertension, cardiac and breathing issues, as well as being an excellent alternative treatment for opiate withdrawal, among many others.


Scientific studies have proved that flower petals can be used to treat moderate depressions with the same efficiency as Prozac. However, for the moment it seems that the flower’s ability to halt the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s is its most promising aspect. Since the flower can be employed as a natural treatment without side effects (the violent vomit of the modern treatment), it appears to be the safest and best alternative to replace the current method in moderate cases of this disease.

It would seem that the Greek goddess of the Isle of Thera, who watched over the crops of this beautiful flower, was also guarding a pharmacologic treasure.

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