Saffron: A wonder spice – Rising Kashmir

The word “saffron” (Crocus sativus L.)  is derived from the Arabic word za’faran, which translates to “yellow.” Saffron finds its name in the oldest text of Kashmir (Nilamatapurane, Vol-1). Also, in the much celebrated ancient cluster of Kashmir, “Rajtarangini” Kalhana includes Kashmiri saffron among those special attributes which according to the people of Kashmir cannot be available even in the paradise (Nehvi, 2010).Saffron also finds its mention in Kashmiri records which dates back to 5th Century BC (Nauriyal et al., 1977).Iran, India and Spain are the major saffron producing countries of the world. Iran occupies the maximum area of 47000 hectares with a total production of 238 M.T contributing above 90 % to the total world’s saffron production.


In India, saffron is predominantly cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir. Saffron is chiefly cultivated around Pampore in the Kashmir Valley. District Pulwama accounts for 77.57% of saffron followed by District Budgam (16.84%), Srinagar (7.66%) whereas, Poochal, Namil, Cherrad, Hullar, Blasia, Gatha, Bandakoota and Sangrambatta of District Kishtwar accounts for 2.5% of the total area of the state (Nehvi., 2010).


Saffron has been utilized for different parts of world particularly for confectionary, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, colouring agent for sausages, oleomargarines, dairy products such as butter, cheese and icecream for color and flavour improvement. In Kashmir, saffron has a long history of being used in culinary (Kashmiri cusine, wazwaan) and Kashmiri tea (Kehwa). There is a long history that the stigmas of Saffron are being used by Chinese, Iranian and Indian traditional medicines for anodyne, antidepressant, a respiratory decongestant, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, expectorant, and sedative. It was also used in folk remedy against scarlet fever, smallpox, colds, asthma, eye and heart diseases. Saffron was also used against blood diarrhea, fever, measles, hepatitis, liver and spleen syrose, urine infection, cholera, diabetes, and dermal diseases and to reduce the discomfort of teething infants.


Medical, pharmaceutical and other applications of saffron


Effect on Learning Behavior

The saffron extract and two of its main ingredients crocin and crocetin, improved memory and learning skills in ethanol-induced learning behavior impairments in mice and rats. Oral administration of saffron may be useful as treatment for neurodegenerative disorders and related memory impairment. (Abe and Saito, 2000; Abe., 1994; Sigura et al., 1995).


Antioxidant activity

The methanolic extract of Crocus sativus and its components such as safranal, crocin etc. were reported to possess radical scavenging activity, suggesting its use as a cosmetic to treat age related disorders, as a food supplement. Crocin was found to possess greater antioxidant capacity than alphatocopherol …….


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