Saffron has been around since the eighth century, and its major exporter is spain. Saffron is very costly selling for as much as $50 per ounce because it takes 200,000 dried stigmas from over 70,000 flowers to produce just one pound. A very little bit goes a long way as it is a very potent and flavorful herb. Just a pinch can lead to a very distinctive flavor and color to many dishes. Saffron is mostly used in rice dishes, soups and pastries. It has been found to be well worth the cost as studies have now shown that the low rate of heart disease in Spain is due to the liberal use of Saffron in Spanish cooking.
Saffron contains the carotenoids crocin and crocetin, which are responsible for the reddish-orange color of the stigmas. The stigmas also contain the aromatic essential oil safranal. Saffron is high in thiamin and riboflavin.
Saffron has a long history of use in natural medicine as well as use as a culinary herb.
Saffron has many therapeutic uses which include, alleviating fatigue and exhaustion, primarily because it strengthens the heart and nervous system. It is also used as an aid in digestion, by increasing appetite while stimulating gastric juice production. It has also been used in many homeopathic remedies to relieve nosebleeds.