Description: Natural Order, Iridaceae. Saffron is native to Greece and all the countries about the Levant, where it has been cultivated from the earliest ages for the purposes of a dye. It is now cultivated largely in Southern Europe for medicinal purposes; and is a garden flower of much brilliance in some sections of this country. The flower-stalk rises from a bulb, and is a long, white, slender tube; the flower itself being large, and of a beautiful lilac color. Leaves radical, linear, dark-green above, pale-green below, inclosed in a membranous sheath, sometimes remaining fresh nearly the whole winter. Corolla in two segments, between which the long styles hang out. Stigmas three, large, nearly an inch long, rolled at the edges, bright orange. The stigmas of saffron are the parts that have been used in medicine. They have a pleasantly bitter and somewhat warming taste. They contain a large portion of extractive matter, and a portion of volatile oil. Age and exposure impair them.
Properties and Uses: Saffron stigmas, usually called the flowers, have long been a professional and a popular remedy for promoting the eruptions of measles and other exanthems; also for promoting gentle perspiration, soothing restlessness, and promoting sleep. It used formerly to be considered a stimulating emmenagogue, but is nearly inert for such purposes. My own experience would class this agent among those possessed of very little power; and there are many reasons for suspecting that it is somewhat narcotic. Used freely, its sleep will be followed by headache, which is not an encouraging symptom; and Shroeder asserts that it will prove fatal, first inducing delirium and then stupor. For myself, I have abandoned its use, and think Physio-Medicalists should be very wary of employing it.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com