Historically, saffron has been used as an aphrodisiac, diaphoretic (to cause sweating), carminative (to prevent gas), and emmenagogue (to bring on menstruation). In Japan, saffron is encapsulated and used as a sleep aid and in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Modern research suggests the spice may provide protection against cancer, memory loss, heart disease, and inflammation.
Saffron contains a dark orange, water- soluble carotene called crocin, which is responsible for much of saffron’s golden color. It has potent antioxidant and anticancer effects, which may help explain saffron’s historical use in cancer treatment. Crocin has been found to trigger apoptosis (programmed cell death) in a number of different types of human cancer cells, including murine tumors, liver cancer, and leukemia. In addition, in studies conducted in China, saffron has demonstrated anticancer activity against a wide spectrum of cancers, including leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, papilloma, squamous cell carcinoma, and soft-tissue sarcoma, and has also been used to protect against coronary heart disease and hepatitis and to promote healthy immunity.
Source: Encyclopedia of Healing Foods