Saffron (Kesar)

Saffron
Saffron (Crocus sativus) is a perennial herb that belongs to the family of Iridaceae. It is widely cultivated in India and other parts of the world and is one of the most expensive herbs worldwide. The name Saffron is derived from an Arabic word which means “yellow”. The light purple flower of C. sativa contains a thread like red-colored stigma which is dried and used commercially as a spice for its powerful odor. It is also used as a natural colorant because of its intensive yellow colour and also for Ayurvedic preparations. Saffron is commonly used in Indian cuisines and deserts. It is also said to have many health benefits like protecting the skin from sun damage and relieving pain and inflammation[1][2].

What are the synonyms of Saffron (Kesar)?

Crocus sativus, Kesar, Zaffran, Kashmirajaman, Kunkuma, Kashmiram, Avarakta

What is the source of Saffron (Kesar)?

Plant Based

Benefits of Saffron (Kesar)

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Alzheimer's disease?

scientific
Scientific View
In Alzheimer’s patients, there is an increase in the production of a protein called amyloid beta protein leading to the formation of amyloid plaques or clusters in the brain. A study states that Saffron can reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain thus improving memory functions in Alzheimer’s patients[13].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (Kesar) has Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter) taste, Ushna Virya (hot) potency and works in balancing all the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. As a result of which it lowers the risk of nervous system disorders.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Depression?

scientific
Scientific View
One of the reasons of depression is the imbalance in the level of serotonin hormone. Saffron acts as a natural antidepressant agent by balancing the level of serotonin thereby relieving the symptoms of depression[8][9].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron helps to cope with depression by balancing the Vata dosha.
Tip:
1. Add 4-5 Saffron (Kesar) threads in 1 cup of warm milk.
2. Drink it twice a day two hours after food daily.
3. Continue for at least 3-4 months for better results.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Menstrual pain?

scientific
Scientific View
Studies state that Saffron has antispasmodic property and helps in relieving pain during periods[14].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron helps to ease the menstrual flow and controls pain due to its Vata balancing property.
Tip
1. Add 4-5 Saffron (Kesar) threads in 1 cup of warm milk.
2. Drink it twice a day two hours after food daily.
3. Continue for at least 3-4 months for better results.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Premenstrual syndrome?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron might help manage some of the symptoms of PMS like depression and painful periods. Saffron acts as a natural antidepressant agent by balancing the level of serotonin thereby relieving the symptoms of depression. It also has antispasmodic property and helps in relieving pain during periods[6][15].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron helps to manage premenstrual syndrome due to its Vata balancing and Rasayana properties.
Tip
1. Take 4-5 threads of Saffron.
2. Add 1-2 teaspoon honey.
3. Take it once or twice a day after meals.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Asthma?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron might be useful for patients with asthma. Safranal present in Saffron has bronchodilatory effect which relaxes the smooth muscles of the windpipe and widens the airway. This might help you breathe easy[14].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron might help in asthma and bronchitis due to its Ushna virya (hot) potency. It also helps to boost immunity by balancing Kapha due to its Rasayana (rejuvenating) property.
Tip:
1. Take 4-5 Saffron threads.
2. Mix it with 1 teaspoon honey.
3. Take it after taking meals twice a day.
4. Take till you see a difference in your symptoms.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Erectile dysfunction?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron possesses aphrodisiac properties due to the presence of a pigment called crocin. It might help in enhancing sexual performance by improving testosterone secretion and the sperm quality. Thus it might be effective in managing male infertility and other sexual disorders like erectile dysfunction[14][16].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (Kesar) works a Vajikarana (aphrodisiac) and helps improve the sexual drive.
Tip:
1. Add 5-6 Saffron threads in 1 cup of warm milk.
2. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
3. Take it at night before going to bed.
4. Do not boil Saffron as it may lose some precious volatile oils.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Insomnia?

scientific
Scientific View
Safranal present in Saffron has hypnotic effect and enhances the sleep-promoting neurons in the brain. A study states that Saffron also relaxes the nervous system and might help overcome anxiety. Together this might help avoid restless or sleepless nights[17][18].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron helps in stress-induced sleeplessness due to its Vata balancing property.
Tip:
1. Add 5-6 Saffron threads in 1 cup of warm milk.
2. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
3. Take it at night before going to bed.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Cancer?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron might be used as a complementary therapy in cancer treatment. Phytochemicals present in Saffron has apoptogenic properties and induces apoptosis or cell death while leaving the non-cancerous cells unharmed. It also has anti-proliferative property and reduces the growth of cancer cells[14][19][20].

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Cough?

scientific
Scientific View
Some studies state that Safranal present in Saffron has antitussive effect which might help control cough[22].

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Psoriasis?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron might help in managing the symptoms of psoriasis if it is consumed in the form of tea on a regular basis[23][24].
Tip:
1. Take 1/2 cup of boiling water.
2. Pour it over a pinch of saffron and steep for 15 minutes.
3. Consume 1-1/2 hour before a meal.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron has Rasayana (rejuvenating) property and shows good results in case of skin problems like psoriasis.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Heart disease?

scientific
Scientific View
Crocetin present in Saffron has antioxidant property. It helps reduce blood cholesterol and prevents buildup of plaque in the arteries. This lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases[21].

How effective is Saffron (Kesar)?

Likely effective
Alzheimer's disease, Depression, Menstrual pain, Premenstrual syndrome
Insufficient evidence
Asthma, Athletic performance, Cancer, Cough, Erectile dysfunction, Heart disease, Insomnia, Premature ejaculation, Psoriasis

Precautions when using Saffron (Kesar)

Advice from Experts
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron should be taken in a recommended dose and for a recommended duration under an Ayurvedic doctor’s supervision.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Due to its property of Ushana or hot potency, saffron should be used with caution.
Tip: Saffron (kesar) should be taken in small quantity and with milk or with any cooling agent in the summer season.
Side Effects
Important
scientific
Scientific View
Saffron is possibly safe for most of the people. However, in some cases it may cause side effects like:
1. Dry mouth
2. Anxiety
3. Dizziness
4. Drowsiness
5. Nausea
6. Change in appetite
7. Headache
Important
scientific
Scientific View
Taking larger amounts of saffron is possibly unsafe and might cause yellow appearance of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, vomiting, dizziness, bloody diarrhea, bleeding from the nose, lips, eyelids, numbness.
Important
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Monitor your blood pressure while taking saffron (kesar) if you are already on antihypertensive medication because it has blood lowering tendency.
Important
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (kesar) can be taken during pregnancy but follow the dosage and duration as recommended by the doctor and self-medication should be avoided.

Recommended Dosage of Saffron (Kesar)

  • Saffron (Kesar) Capsule - 1 capsule once or twice a day.
  • Saffron (Kesar) Tablet - 1 Tablet once or twice a day.

How to use Saffron (Kesar)

1. Saffron threads
Take 5-6 threads with milk once or twice a day.

2. Saffron Capsule
Take 1 capsule twice a day with milk after taking lunch and dinner.

3.Saffron Tablet
Take 1 tablet twice a day with milk after taking lunch and dinner

Benefits of Saffron (Kesar)

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Hair loss?

scientific
Scientific View
Rich in phytochemicals and anti-oxidants, Saffron might be an effective ingredient for controlling baldness[6][26].
Tip:
1. Take one cup milk in a bowl.
2. Add 5-6 strands of Saffron in it.
3. Soak for about 10 minutes.
4. Add 4 to 5 tablespoon licorice powder to this.
5. Mix well to form a smooth paste.
6. Apply this over the scalp and hair.
7. Leave for about 30 minutes.
8. Wash off using normal water.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron has Vata balancing property and improves hair growth by controlling excessive dryness.

What are the benefits of Saffron (Kesar) for Local anesthesia (Numb tissues in a specific area)?

scientific
Scientific View
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties play a key role in pain management and relief in case of earache, otitis, toothache, gingivitis, anal pain and gout. It also improves swelling caused due to inflammation[5].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron has Vata balancing property which helps to manage pain in the body.

How effective is Saffron (Kesar)?

Insufficient evidence
Hair loss, Local anesthesia (Numb tissues in a specific area)

Precautions when using Saffron (Kesar)

Allergy
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, Saffron (Kesar) has a property of Ushana (hot in potency) so take some precautions while using Saffron(kesar):
If your skin is hypersensitive use Saffron (kesar) with milk for external application.

Recommended Dosage of Saffron (Kesar)

  • Saffron (Kesar) Oil - 1-3 drops or as per your requirement.

How to use Saffron (Kesar)

1. Saffron Threads
a. Take 5-6 threads of Saffron in 2 tablespoon of milk.
b. Add 1 teaspoon of Multani mitti powder to it.
c. Mix well to form a paste.
d. Apply on the face and wait for 15-20 minutes to dry.
e. Rinse it off with normal water.
f. Use this paste 2-3 times a week.
g. If you have an oily skin, replace milk with rose water.

2. Saffron oil with Olive oil
a. Take 2-3 drops of Saffron oil
b. Mix it with olive oil and massage your face in circular motion for 5-10 minutes.
c. Repeat it once a week to reduce dryness and get naturally glowing skin.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What is Saffron tea?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron tea is nothing but infusion of saffron strands in water. Few strands of Saffron are added to water, boiled and the resulting solution is used as an infusion or tea. Usually 1 ml of saffron water is mixed with 80 ml of water to make Saffron tea[1]. You can also add saffron infusion to other types of teas like green tea, Kahwa tea or masala tea.

Q. How to store Saffron?

scientific
Scientific View
The best way to store Saffron is to place it in an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place, preferably at room temperature. Avoid storing it in refrigerator as it tends to absorb moisture when taken out and kept at room conditions for use.

Q. How to make Saffron (kesar) milk?

scientific
Scientific View
Kesar doodh can be made at home in a simple way. All you need to have is milk, sugar, cardamom and a strand or two of Saffron. Boil milk and add sugar, cardamom powder and kesar to the milk and allow it to boil for few minutes. Pour it in a glass and drink when lukewarm.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Do not boil saffron (kesar)with milk as it will lose some precious volatile oils.

Q. What are common brands of Saffron in India?

scientific
Scientific View
The common Indian brands that sell saffron are Patanjali kesar, Lion brand saffron, Baby brand saffron, etc.

Q. How long does Saffron last?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron can last long if stored properly in an airtight container and under preferable conditions. However, saffron powder can last for upto six months whereas saffron threads can last for up to three to five years.

Q. What is the price of Saffron in India?

scientific
Scientific View
The price of Saffron per gram in India can range anywhere between Rs 250 - Rs 300 based on the brands and the extent of purity.

Q. Is Saffron good for the liver?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron might be good for the liver due to its hepatoprotective property. It also helps in proper digestion of food and helps in reducing the level of toxic substances in the liver[14].

Q. Is Ssaffron good for treating eye disorders?

scientific
Scientific View
Crocetin and crocin present in Saffron might be good for lowering the risk of eye disorders such as cataract, conjunctivitis and to improve the vision. Saffron can help restore the function of retina as well as prevent oxidative damage due to its antioxidant property[14][25].

Q. Can Saffron be taken with prescription or nonprescription medicines?

scientific
Scientific View
Saffron should be avoided if you are suffering from bipolar disorder, low blood pressure, heart conditions or are on blood pressure medications (blood thinners). It is safe to consult a doctor before taking Saffron to avoid herb-drug interaction and allergic reactions[12].

Q. Is exposure to Saffron during pregnancy safe?

scientific
Scientific View
No,Saffron in not recommended for pregnant women because exposure to saffron is found to cause abortion, especially between first and twentieth week of pregnancy. It could be due to uterine contraction or bleeding induced by Saffron[10]. There is no clear evidence if it can be taken after the twentieth week of pregnancy. If you want to, then it is better to consult your doctor.

Q. Is Saffron safe for breastfeeding women?

scientific
Scientific View
Although there are no enough studies on the use of Saffron during lactation or breastfeeding, but if you think of using it, better consult your doctor and discuss the pros and cons before using Saffron.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, saffron can be taken in small quantity (3-5 threads) with warm milk once a day during breast-feeding by women.

Q. Does Saffron cause toxic effects on the health?

scientific
Scientific View
When consumed in limits (as advised by doctor), Saffron is safe. Studies have reported that intake of 15 mg of Saffron twice a day is found to cause no toxic effects on thyroid, liver, kidney and hematologic systems[10].

Q. Does Saffron cause stomach problems?

scientific
Scientific View
It is reported that Saffron is a gastric tonic and suppresses the appetite. Saffron is a digestive drug with astringent properties (ability to shrink or constrict body tissues). It also cleanses the stomach by eliminating toxins from the body[11].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (kesar) has a property of Ushna (hot in potency) and improves digestion but if you have aggravated Pitta and you take saffron in high dose, it can cause some stomach problems like burning sensation. Therefore it is better to use saffron only in small quantity with milk.

Q. What are the side effects of Saffron?

scientific
Scientific View
1. Yellowing of eyes and skin.
2. Vomiting
3. Diarrhea
4. Numbness
5. Dizziness[12]

Saffron may cause vomiting and nose bleeding due to its Ushna virya (hot) potency if taken in high dose and for a prolonged time.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
According to Ayurveda, if your skin is hypersensitive and have any problem related to aggravated Pitta, using high doses of saffron (kesar) can cause irritation of the skin, vomiting and nose bleeding due to its hot property.

Q. Is Saffron good for skin pigmentation?

scientific
Scientific View
The flavonoids present in Saffron is known to protect the skin against the harmful UV radiation and thus, prevent skin tanning and pigmentation[2].
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (Kesar) belongs to the group of Varnya gana and enhances fairness and gives a glow to the skin.
Tip:
1. Take 5-6 threads of Saffron in 2 tablespoon of milk.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of Multani mitti powder to it.
3. Mix well to form a paste.
4. Apply on the face and wait for 15-20 minutes to dry.
5. Rinse it off with normal water.
6. Use this paste 2-3 times a week.
7. If you have an oily skin, replace milk with rose water.

Q. Is Saffron good for acne?

scientific
Scientific View
Yes, Saffron might help control acne due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It inhibits the growth of acne-causing bacteria (S. aureus) and reduces the redness and pain around acne[5].
Tip:
1. Add 5-6 strands of Saffron to 2 tablespoon milk.
2. Add 5 to 6 Tulsi leaves to this.
3. Grind them together.
4. Apply the mixture on pimples and acne.
5. Leave for about an hour.
6. Wash off using normal water.
7. Follow this remedy twice a week for reduced acne and pimples.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron helps control acne and acne scar due to its Ropan (healing) and Rasayana (rejuvenating) properties.

Q. How to use Saffron for skin whitening?

scientific
Scientific View
Tip:
1. Take 2-3 strands of Saffron in a small bowl.
2. Add 2 tablespoon milk in it.
3. Allow the Saffron strands to soak in the milk for 5 minutes.
4. Add 1 teaspoon sandalwood powder in it.
5. Mix them to form a paste.
6. Apply on wet face.
7. Massage in circular motions.
8. Leave for about 20 minutes.
9. Rinse off with normal water.
10. Follow this regularly for a week for a glowing skin[2].

Q. Can Saffron (kesar) be applied to wounds?

scientific
Scientific View
Although Saffron is used to treat skin pigmentation [2], there is no clear evidence for the use of this herb to treat wounds and skin infections. Hence, it is advised to not use the same to get rid of skin infection or wounds and consult your doctor if have any queries.
ayurvedic
Ayurvedic View
Saffron (kesar) can be used for fast healing of wound due to its Ropan (healing) property. Use saffron powder (kesar) directly on wound twice a day but if there is any severe infections, consult an Ayurvedic doctor before using.

References

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  8. Lopresti AL, Drummond PD.Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: A systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action.Hum Psychopharmacol.2014;29(6):517-27.
  9. Shafiee M, Arekhi S, Omranzadeh A, et al.Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action.J Affect Disord.2018;227:330-337.
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Disclaimer
The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.