This pretty and powerful spice dates back to ancient Egyptian and Roman times when it was first used for medicinal value. According to the legend when the Greek gods Zeus and Hera made love, the land burst open with blooming crocuses (the flower that produces saffron)
While I have always been in awe of it wonderful qualities to enhance the flavour of my food and give it a pretty golden hue I was absolutely astounded to discover it could achieve the same results as the drug my mother was first prescribed for her Alzheimer’s called Aricept. This medication is essentially an enzyme blocker that works by restoring the balance of natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Saffron can achieve the same results if not better. Researchers in two published studies show that saffron may help to reduce the formation of beta-amyloid plaque, a sticky substance that builds up in the brain stem and which occurs as part of the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only can Aricept have terrible side effects like nausea it can also be costly. You think saffron is expensive – compare it to an average cost of $15 a pill, saffron in its natural form to me is far more desirable. I know Pfizer, the drug company that produce this may have a hit put out on me – but hey, I will go out on a limb here as I wish I had known this 7 years ago when my mum was prescribed it and it had terrible side effects for her.
I have had such an exciting week of discovery that saffron can be good for early stage Alzheimers, as well as many other magical possibilities this wondrous spice has.
Here is my week on this incredible and wondrous spice.
Day 1. Saffron Chai Latte
I have to say I am a bit over all the hype about Turmeric lattes so I came up with my own special concoction using my new elixir. This nurturing and soothing drink will not only help with memory, saffron has had proven results for helping with depression. According to the study saffron was as effective as Prozac for mild to moderate depression. Move over turmeric lattes!
Charlottes Saffron Chai Latte
Makes 4 cups
- 3 cups whole coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons pistachios, shelled and chopped
- 10 whole cardamom pods
- 1 piece cinnamon stick
- Pinch of saffron threads (10 to 15)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoon honey
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups brewed black tea
How to make
- Bring the coconut milk to a gentle simmer.
- Add the pistachios, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, and nutmeg and simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, to allow the flavors to infuse. Stir in the sugar and salt. Taste and add more sugar if needed. Stir in the black tea.
- Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve.
- Make a milk foam (I used our nespresso machine but you could hand whisk hot milk)
- Pour into individual mugs, sprinkle with a few saffron threads and serve while still hot.
Day 2. Indian Cuisine
Saffron and Turmeric have been used in India for over 5,000 years, and it comes as no surprise both rural and urban populations have some of the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s disease in the world.
As I adore Indian food including these Indian spices in my diet is easy – i just needed some inspiration. I was very fortunate to reconnect recently with one of my first distributors from the early EGG Maternity days – Ashia Ismail Singer who has created a stunning food blog based on Indian food and culture. Her grandparents moved from India to Malawi in the late 1940’s, when the partition happened between India and Pakistan. There was a large Indian community in Malawi so recipes and cooking styles from their home were preserved. She learnt from her mum, recipes passed down from generations.
Here Ashia has shared with me one of her favs – Coconut Chicken Curry. Her recipe does just include Turmeric but as she said saffron is a wonderful addition or you could substitute turmeric for saffron. For the recipe click here
Day 3. Saffron Kombucha
My family has recently started making Kombucha which we are hooked on. Known as the “Immortal Health Elixir” by the Chinese and originating in the Far East around 2,000 years ago, kombucha is a drink with huge possibilities. Ultimately, this cocktail of good bacteria interact together in a unique way to produce some unbelievable health benefits for those who drink it.
Kombucha contains folic acid, an important B vitamin that works with vitamin B12 to reduce risk factor for heart disease. B vitamins may prevent and correct deficiencies caused by aging, cancer, Crohn’s disease, heart disease, immunodepression, memory loss (including Alzheimer’s disease), osteoporosis, and periodontal disease. This combined with saffron makes this the ultimate health tonic.
My darling friend Katrina Horton has a great recipe on her blog and she kindly gifted us our first scoby. The key to the creation of Komboucha is the “scoby”; a combination of bacteria and fungal yeast cells, which live symbiotically. I know it sounds like a slimey alien but it is truly magnificent on what it achieves.
For the recipe please click here and in the final fermentation process add 15 strands to each bottle. If you don’t have the time or patience to make it contact Katrina as she is making it to order and I have to say hers is sensational. Katrina can tailor make it to suit. Make sure you don’t buy powdered saffron as it can often be mixed with turmeric. One of the best saffrons come from Kiwi Saffron, grown in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand.
My gorgeous mama loves it too!
Day 4. Saffron Bath
In ancient Egypt, Cleopatra used a quarter-cup of saffron in her warm baths before her encounters with men. She was said to believe that the saffron would make lovemaking more pleasurable. Maybe that is why saffron is now prescribed for erectile disfunction!
What a perfect excuse to create my own version of a Saffron Bath, if Cleopatra could do it so could I.
Charlottes Saffron and Frankincense Bath Oil
What you will need
- Around 40 saffron strands
- Rose Petals
- 3 or 4 Frankincense tears
- 1/2 cup of Almond Oil
- ½ cup of Almond Oil
- Into a glass jar put saffron and frankincense and pour over the almond and avocado oil.
- Cover and leave for at least 10 days to infuse.
- When ready add a decent slug to a warm bath
- Pour a glass of wine
- Light a candle
- Put on a face Mask treatment
- Pop on your favourite music
This magical spice is also packed full of antioxidant compounds, including zeaxanthin, which is beneficial to the eyes, and lycopene, which is known to protect the prostate gland. Saffron contains compounds that protect nerves, and is super rich in gallic acid, a potent compound that is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and demonstrates liver-protective, cancer-inhibiting and immune-supporting activity.
So there you have just a small insight into the huge benefits of Saffron for a Beautiful Mind and Body and all you need is 15 strands a day.