Historical uses of Saffron

Persian saffron


During ancient times, saffron (Crocus sativus L.) had many uses worldwide. However, some of these uses were forgotten throughout history. However, a newly formed interest in natural active compounds brought back attention to the historical benefits of saffron. Understanding the different benefits of saffron in the past can help us find the best uses at present. In this study, we reviewed various benefits of saffron throughout history among different nations.

Saffron is a spice derived from the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus Linné, known by ancient nations and has remained among the world’s costliest substances throughout history. The flower’s natural fields are in the 30˚- 40˚ North latitude. Its flowering period extends 2 or 3 weeks in October or November (depending on geographical differences), in which the flowers are picked by hand; the dark red stigmas are separated manually and then dried.
The stigmas from about 100,000 flowers are required to make a kilo of pure dried saffron (Claus, 1962; Abrishami, 1987; Abrishami, 1997; Dalby, 2000). Different nations have used saffron for different purposes, such as spice,
dye, and perfume (Abrishami, 2004). For almost four millennia, saffron has had
the most significant number of applications among all medicinal plants and has been used to treat 90 medical indications (Ferrence & Bendersky, 2004).
Many types of research are being done on therapeutic and other applications of this precious spice; thus, we have reviewed modern studies in this regard (Bathaie and Mousavi). In addition, there have been some reviews about saffron’s historical features and application (Ferrence & Bendersky, 2004; Giaccio, 2004; Schmidt, Betti, et al., 2007).
However, a need for a comprehensive review of the saffron’s uses by different nations throughout history is evident, especially regarding the medicinal and historical uses of Iranian saffron, as there is little known about it in the international literature. Understanding different uses of saffron in the past may help us find new ways of using it.

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