One of nature’s treasures, saffron has been known since ancient times for its bright yellow color, subtle flavor, and medicinal properties. Culinary chefs and home cooks all over the world have used this precious golden herb to enlighten their biryani, curry, paella, or risotto dish.
Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice, stemming from the dried orange-red stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, which are harvested by hand. It takes about 70,000 flowers and numerous man-hours to produce one pound of dried saffron, hence the expensive price tag. Fortunately, a little bit of saffron goes a long way and it may be worth the extra cost. A group of Australian and Italian researchers found that saffron can reverse vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration.
While age-related macular degeneration is more common among the elderly population, this retina-destroying degenerative disease can afflict young and old. When macular degeneration affects your eyes, your sight may go blurry or dark spots can appear in your field of vision, which may ultimately lead to vision loss and blindness. But there is hope, and it is coming from a natural spice.
A saffron pill to reverse macular degeneration
During a controlled, double-blind trial, including 25 individuals with macular degeneration, researchers found that daily supplementation of 20 milligrams saffron significantly improved the condition after three months. All participants experienced better vision while taking the saffron supplements.
As stated by Professor Silvia Bisti, a visiting scholar based at The Vision Centre at the University of Sydney, after saffron supplementation, patients could read one or two lines smaller than before, while others could read a book or newspaper again. She has called this study a breakthrough since it is the first time a connection has been made between antioxidant-rich saffron supplements and eyesight. She believes saffron’s beneficial effect mainly comes from the ability to increase oxygen levels in the body and prevent cell death.
Professor Benedetto Falsini, who conducted the trial, however, noted that when participants stopped taking the saffron pills, the positive effects quickly wore off. Nonetheless, Falsini’s results inspired Professor Bisti – in collaboration with the Catholic University of Rome and the University of L’Aquila – to start another 12-month human trial to gather more information about saffron’s impact on our vision and the optimal dose.
Findings offer new hope
Furthermore, these findings may offer new hope for people suffering genetic eye diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, which can induce blindness in young people. Professor Bisti’s work is a continuation of research led by Professor Jonathan Stone at the University of Sydney’s The Vision Lab.
He conducted many animal trials revealing saffron’s ability to protect the eye from bright light. After decades of dedicating his time to lab tests, he is pleased to see that saffron is finally being used to help people retrieve their vision and combat macular degeneration.
To keep vision impairment and blindness at bay, Natural Blaze recommends drinking one cup of saffron tea per day. This healing, antioxidant-rich drink prevents the degeneration of the cells that take in the light while improving the function of the blood vessels supporting the eye and retina.