Saffron tea was treasured by ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks for use in folk medicine, and to create culinary and herbal delights. Saffron, a member of the lily family, is the delicate part of the flower that catches pollen. The bright red stigmas of the saffron plant are carefully picked, leaving behind a golden stamen. Recent clinical trials have proved the herb to have potential health benefits, according to Michael Murray, N.D. author of "The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods."
A cup of saffron tea may have the potential to slow down blindness, according to the article, "Saffron: Golden Secret of Clearer Sight" on the Inscience website. Research at the University of L'Aquila in Abruzzi, Italy, has established saffron's ability to protect vision cells thanks to its fatty acid content. When saffron is taken daily, the fatty acid content becomes tougher. During the trial, eye charts showed remarkable progress by the patients. A daily cup of saffron tea protects the eye from bright light, and it is safe to use daily.
The rich, golden color of saffron tea comes from crocin, a chemical component in the flower that is loaded with antioxidants. According to Murray, crocin has potent anti-cancer effects against a wide spectrum of cancers. The flavonoids found in crocin inhibit human cancer cells and can potentially shrink tumor cells. Carotenoids, the natural pigments prompting the yellow hue found in saffron, protect the body from diseases, stress and viruses. Preparing saffron tea is simple. Use three threads of saffron or less, toss into hot water, and steep for a minimum of 20 minutes. Add a cinnamon stick to reduce bitterness of the saffron.
Heart Disease Protection
Antioxidants in saffron tea can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The flavonoids, especially lycopene, found in saffron can provide added protection. A clinical trial at the Department of Medicine and Indigenous Drug Research Center showed positive effects of saffron on cardiovascular disease. The study involved 20 participants, including 10 with heart disease. According to the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, all participants showed improved health, but those with cardiovascular disease showed more progress.
Saffron can be expensive and is sometimes difficult to find. High quality saffron is available over the Internet. Store in a dry, cool area in airtight containers. Saffron is available in a powder or in threads.