Saffron is a plant used to make saffron spice, which is potentially useful for treating Alzheimer's disease, depression, PMS and menstrual pain. It is also used to treat asthma, insomnia and baldness, and has been used as an aphrodisiac. Some early research indicates that saffron tea can improve psoriasis and treat male infertility and erectile dysfunction. Chemicals in saffron may also help relieve or reduce fatigue during athletic performance.
Saffron is thought to lower blood pressure. The golden color of saffron comes from carotenoid compounds that may also play a role in fighting certain cancers and inhibiting the growth of tumors. Saffron also seems to affect the degeneration of the retina, preserving vision as people age and their eyesight naturally begins to degrade.
One of the world's most expensive spices, 75,000 saffron blossoms must be picked by hand to make 1 pound of saffron spice. The spice and medicine are made from the dried stigmas. It is probably safe to ingest as a medicine for up to six weeks, with side effects ranging from dry mouth and nausea to drowsiness and headaches. However, high doses are potentially poisonous, with doses of 12 to 20 grams proving fatal. Purchasers may want to choose dried saffron stigma instead of powder, which is prone to adulteration and fraud.