What Was Saffron Used for in Ancient Times?

Saffron has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties. The spice has a long history of being traded across the Mediterranean and Middle East, with ancient civilizations valuing it as a precious commodity.

But what exactly was saffron used for in ancient times? Let’s explore.

Medicinal Use of Saffron

Saffron was highly valued for its medicinal properties in ancient times. It was believed to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. The Ancient Egyptians used saffron as a remedy for gastrointestinal problems, while the Greeks and Romans used it to treat respiratory illnesses and improve blood circulation.

In traditional Chinese medicine, saffron was used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. It was also believed to have aphrodisiac properties and was often prescribed to improve sexual function.

Culinary Use of Saffron

Saffron has been an essential ingredient in many cuisines around the world since ancient times. It was prized for its unique flavor and aroma, as well as its vibrant yellow color. In Ancient Rome, saffron was used to flavor wine and food dishes such as fish sauce.

In medieval Europe, saffron became popular in sweet dishes such as custards and cakes. In India, saffron is still widely used in savory rice dishes such as biryani and pulao.

Religious Significance

Saffron also had religious significance in many ancient cultures. In Hinduism, saffron is associated with purity and is often used in religious ceremonies. Buddhist monks wear robes dyed with saffron to symbolize humility and detachment from material possessions.

In Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia (modern-day Iran), saffron was believed to have purifying powers that could ward off evil spirits.


Saffron has been used for a variety of purposes in ancient times, from medicine to religion to cuisine. Its value was so high that it was often traded like gold.

Today, saffron is still a prized ingredient in many dishes and continues to be used for its medicinal properties. Whether you’re looking to add flavor to your food or improve your health, saffron is an ingredient worth exploring.