Saffron is one of the main super ingredients in I Coloniali cosmetic products. Its excellent qualities make it a precious resource for uses which range from medicine and cookery to cosmetics. Around 100,000 flowers are required to obtain 1 kg of powdered saffron. These must be collected and dried by hand to guarantee their integrity. This laborious and complex procedure transforms this ingredient into one of the most expensive spices in the world which, not surprisingly, is also known by the name of powdered gold. Its use in cosmetics is due to its ability to oxygenate the tissues which is possibly thanks to the low molecular weight of some of its constituents. Oxygenation of the tissues gives the skin of the face a more luminous appearance and a more uniform colour.
The properties of saffron are found in all the products in the I Coloniali Age Recover line which was designed with the help of the University of Pavia. Formulated to take care of the most mature skins, the Age Recover line acts on the signs of ageing by repairing blemishes, wrinkles and sagging skin. Research has demonstrated that the two active molecules of saffron, safranal and crocin, are rich in antioxidants and active anti-ageing compounds.
Saffron, together with Myrrh, is also one of the ingredients of theriac, an ancient remedy of the early pharmacopoeia. It was extensively documented by Galen who praised its regenerative properties. It is an authentic elixir of youth from which I Coloniali drew inspiration for its anti-ageing remedies; molecular science techniques are used to enhance the effects of the ancient remedy, making it more effective.
Saffron: therapeutic properties
The antioxidant properties of saffron’s extracts have also been documented and it has been shown that its constituents can bind to nucleic acids, proteins and lipids, thus conferring protection from the attack of the free radicals. Saffron is also effective as a sunscreen and prevents erythema.
One of saffron’s particular characteristics is that it can contain more than 150 volatile and aromatic compounds which produce carotenoids, responsible for its golden colour, safranal, responsible for its rich fragrance and flavonoids responsible for its antioxidant properties.
Saffron has always been used, since time immemorial, mainly for its therapeutic properties. It is a precious spice capable of improving an individual’s general well-being. In addition to these noteworthy qualities, saffron also offers many beauty benefits. It is considered a natural tonic and its lightening agent improves the appearance of the skin by making the complexion uniform.
This expensive spice has occupied a special place in many cultures and is widely used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. The Indian Ayurvedic belief believed that saffron was very powerful and that it was able to pacify all three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha). Given its immeasurable value since ancient times, the healing properties of saffron extracts have also been tested from a scientific point of view. Scholars have discovered that it also has a positive effect on learning and memory.
The golden spice has also been used to treat anxiety and stress, the direct enemies of beautiful skin.
Saffron: origin and history
Saffron <strong> (crocus sativus) belongs to the Iridaceae family of monocotyledonous plants, a stemless herb widely used in Iran, India and Greece. However, it is more widely cultivated in southern Europe and Asia.
Saffron has also always been prized for its inherent value; it has been considered a medicinal plant since ancient times and was valued as highly as gold. Not surprisingly, kings, queens and pharaohs used it as a fragrance in baths and on their sheets. History tells us that Cleopatra also used to bathe in goat’s milk and saffron to maintain her youthful appearance. One of its main uses was also that of a natural dyestuff for food and beverages.
There are numerous Greek frescoes dating back to 1600 [BC] which depict saffron harvesting rituals and saffron offerings as part of religious ceremonies. In India, the spice was also used in weddings. In addition, it played a very important role in all religions which derived from the Indus as it was essential for anointing gifts in many of the rituals, and it was applied to the foreheads of worshippers.
Saffron in cookery
The long and interesting history of saffron dates back over 3,000 years. Many civilisations, countries and cultures, from the Babylonians to the Egyptians and from the Greeks to the Romans, and then later throughout the Middle East, began to use saffron in their cookery recipes, adding this new flavour to their favourite foods.
Even today the spice is found in many recipes ranging from first courses to desserts. To use powdered saffron just dissolve it in a little water and add it during the cooking phase or when making a dough. Use of the pistils is more demanding. They must first be immersed in lukewarm water for about an hour. The only rule to remember so that it keeps its flavour is not to cook it, only ever use lukewarm water.
When used correctly in cookery saffron enriches the diet with important nutrients: fibres and proteins; minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper and manganese; and vitamins such as vitamin C, A and some of the B group vitamins.