“Saffron was formerly in great repute as a stimulant, antispasmodic, and emmenagogue; but at present it is scarcely ever employed in this country, or in the United States, as a medicinal agent, except that it is sometimes given to young children in exanthematous diseases from its reputed power of promoting the eruption.” – Henry Trimen
Origin and Distribution
This exotic herb finds mention in several ancient texts. It is mentioned in classical western writings and also in the Bible. It is specially mentioned in Bhavprakash Nighantu, an Ayurvedic text. The Arabs, who introduced the cultivation of the plant into Spain as an article of commerce, bequeathed to us its modern title of Zaffer or saffron, but the Greeks and Romans called it Krokos and Karokam respectively.
Saffron is a native of Southern Europe. It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Saffron was imported to England from the East many centuries ago, and was once grown extensively round Saffron Walden, in Essex, UK. One smoke-pervaded spot in the heart of London still bears the name ‘Saffron Hill’. This herb is now cultivated in Mediterranean countries, particularly in Spain, and also in Austria, France, Greece, England, Turkey, Persia, India and China. The La Macha belt of Spain is the largest producer of saffron in the world and contributes 80-90% of the world saffron production. In India the cultivation of saffron is confined to Pampore and Kistwar areas of Jammu and Kashmir, extending to nearly 4000 acres.