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The Pain-Fighting Power of Saffron

The Pain-Fighting Power of Saffron

Did you know it takes 70,000 to 250,000 purple saffron crocuses to make one pound of the amber-red seasoning (it’s made from dried stigma, the part of the flower where pollen germinates)? No wonder it costs $75 or more an ounce.

But its delicate flavor, wonderful color and nutritional payload (vitamin B 2, flavonoids) turn out to be only part of its powers: A study reveals that taking the spice is a more effective way to prevent and control post-exercise pain than taking an anti-inflammatory pain reliever called indomethacin; it’s an NSAID like ibuprofen.

Researchers had a group of inactive 18-year-olds go through a series of strenuous exercises: Those who took the powdered saffron (300mg daily for one week before and for three days after working out) were pain-free for 72 hours after exercising; those who took the NSAID had minor pain 24 hours later; and those who took neither had severe muscle pain for three days afterwards.

So the next time you’re getting ready to take a hike, join a charity walk-a-thon, do a fun-run or are just looking for a flavor treat, cook up some paella, vegetable soup or Moroccan seafood stew and add some saffron. Luckily it takes just a pinch to impart its flavor and goodness.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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