Saffron has been used traditionally since ages and has references in the oldest Ayurvedic Charaka Samhita & Sushruta Samhita (approx. 500 B.C).It is commonly known as Kumkum or Kesar. It takes about 150,000 flowers to produce one kilogram of dried saffron, traded by weight making it the most expensive spice in the world.

Trade in Saffron-
Global Scenario
Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Italy are major saffron spice producing countries. It is also used for fabric dyeing in China and India. Germany, Italy, U.S.A, Switzerland, U.K, and France are the largest saffron importing countries. Iran and Spain produce approximately 85% of the total world crop.

Saffron is as important ingredient of large number of Ayurvedic medicines because of its antipoisonous, anticancer and antitumor (F. Abdullaev), aphrodisiac, cardiotonic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, stimulant, lactogogue, livotonic, nervine tonic, sedative properties. It is used in acne, apoplexy, arthritis, asthma, colic, cough dyspepsia, hemierania, insect bites and stings, liver disorders, mental disorders, neurasthenia, oedema, painful menstruation, phthisis, prolapse of anus, sore throat and splenic disorders. It is attributed with extraordinary properties for improving weak eyesight and highly valued as a complexion builder (Chopra et al., 1956: Kirukar & Basu, 1935).
Saffron perfume is pungent, cures phlegm and throat ailments and stops vomiting. It stops shooting pain. Saffron gives a healthy glow and brightness to the body. Diseases such as leprosy, head ailments.

The use of Saffron in Western countries for medicinal purposes dates back to the sixteenth century. The Ebers Papyrus (Ca. 1550 B.C) has mentioned it as an ingredient in case of kidney problems (Baumann.1960). Dioscorides of Anazarb attributed magical medicinal properties to Saffron if worn as an amulet. Pliny (1st century) ascribed general panacean properties to it when taken internally. In the centuries to follow it was recommended as an addition to meals to give cheering cardiac medicament effect. In regulated doses, it is said to increase appetite and to ease headaches and hangovers,a valuable remedy for catarrhal infections, useful in otitis, melancholia, enlargement of liver and spleen, as a nerve sedative, carminative. In regulated doses, it can be used as a safe abortifacient but in higher doses it may be fatal as well. As a drug it is considered astringent, stimulant of metabolism, refrigerant, diuretic, antihusteric, stomachic, antiseptic and spasmodic. Saffron corms have however, very toxic effect when eaten by young animals (Basker & Negbi, 1983). Not above ten grains must be given at one time; a cordial if taken in an immoderate quantity, hurts the heart instead of helping it. It quickens the brain; helps consumptions of the lungs, and difficulty of breathing, it is excellent in epidemical diseases, as pestilence, smallpox, and measles and good remedy in the yellow-jaundice and disorders of breast in female obstructions, and hysteric depressions. It controls fainting-fits and the palpitation of the heart; it strengthens the stomach, helps digestion, cleans the lungs and is good in hysteric disorders. However, the use of it ought to be moderate and reasonable; for when the dose is too large, it produces a heaviness of the head and sleepiness; some have fallen into an immoderate convulsive laughter, which ended in death. From: Culperer’s complete herbal (A.D. 1653)
Source: The Essential saffron companion
by John Humphries (1996)

Author's Bio: 

Iam Ms. Shaili Vadera,a Lecturer in amity business school and also pursuing Ph.D from dept of economics Lucknow University.
I have published two papers related to agricultural retailing and corporate social resposibility.
My academic Qualification include MBA degree, M.A. in Economcs, B.Sc in life sciences and have six years of teaching and industry experience.