Saffron is a highly sought-after spice that is made from the dried stigma (the bulb of the flower where pollination occurs) of autumn crocus flowers. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because it’s extremely difficult to harvest. Every crocus flower is hand-picked, and the three stigmas in each flower are separated by hand. Saffron has been used for thousands of years in cooking, medicines, perfumes and dyes.
Medically, saffron has been commonly used to treat fever, cramps and to soothe nerves. It can also be used topically for bruises, inflammation and other types of pain. Saffron can settle the stomach as it contains antispasmodic properties, and ingestion can promote a healthy digestive system and increase the appetite. It’s frequently used in Ayurveda therapy to support the immune system and reduce the severity of colds and symptoms of asthma.
Saffron has been used to treat insomnia for thousands of years as it’s believed to contain sedative qualities, and it’s a great source of essential minerals such as copper, calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc and potassium. It also contains vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, and niacin. Saffron also contains natural carotenoids like crocin and crocetin, which are responsible for the rich, orangey-red hue.
Though saffron is known to be extremely expensive, a little goes a long way. To use as a remedy for insomnia, simply steep two strands of saffron in a mug of warm milk and drink before bed each night. You can also drink it in warm water with a drop of honey.