Tag Archives: aperient


Saffron: What You Need To Know About This Golden Spice

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an Asian herb, and the world’s most expensive spice, commonly used for culinary purposes.

Saffron spice is made from dried stigmas of the crocus’ flower. This spice has a rich history, having been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks both as a spice and a medicine.

Traditionally, saffron was used to relieve symptoms of fever, menstrual disorders, epilepsy and problems associated with the digestive system. However, this spice has slowly dominated the kitchen, with countless recipes using it as an essential ingredient.

How to Identify Saffron

Saffron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saffron has a rich red-orange color when used in liquids, and it gives dishes and baked items a rich yellow color. This is one of the main reasons why this spice is used for culinary purposes, in addition to its aromatic properties. When buying saffron, here are a few insights into buying the real stuff:

  • If you are on the go and want to buy saffron, you may probably find it powdered. To ascertain that the powder is indeed saffron, take a pinch and stir it in warm water. If the water is instantly colored, the powder is not genuine saffron. The authentic spice should take at least ten minutes to color the water since it takes some time to infuse.
  • Red stigmas mixed with yellow styles.
    Red stigmas and yellow styles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    If you prefer the strands, it is good to learn how to identify high quality saffron. The quality of this golden spice is evident in the color of the stigmas. A high intensity of the color red means that the spice is of high quality, which also translates to a high price. However, to avoid buying dyed counterfeits at exorbitant prices, ascertain that the tips are a lighter red compared to the rest of the strand.

A saffron crocus flower.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To identify fresh saffron, one should know the basic characteristics of the plant. Crocus sativus is in the family of the Iridaceous plants. It grows to about 20 or 30 cm, and bears a maximum of 4 purple flowers per plant. Each flower bears only three bright crimson stigmas, which are connected to the carpel, along with the stalks. The flower emits a characteristic hay-like fragrance, which is hard to miss.

How Can You Get the Best Out of Saffron?

From simple preparation, crush a few strands of saffron and soak them in hot liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes. This allows enough time to infuse and give out maximum color and fragrance. The resulting mixture can be used in small quantities in teas, soups, pastries, confectionary and meals.

It is important to remember that saffron should be taken in minimal amounts. When using saffron as a spice, use only a few strands or a few drops of infused saffron. Too much of the spice makes meals and drinks bitter, and leave a medicine-like after taste.

What Are the Benefits of Using Saffron?

Since this is the most expensive spice, anyone would think twice before making a purchase. However, before you decide not to use it, here is a list of the benefits you will miss out on.

Saffron was, and still is, used relieve symptoms of troubled digestive system. It is a natural remedy for low appetite, nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea. It also offers relief from a bloated stomach and acidity. A few drops of the infused saffron in tea, soup or juice are enough.

The bright red-orange color characteristic of the spice is proof of the presence of carotenoids. This is a chemical that is vital for strong bones and healthy eyes. According to recent studies, this herb has enough of the carotenoids to cure arthritis and prevent blindness in old age. It also offers improved vision to people suffering from cataracts.

This golden spice is a mild antidepressant. This makes it the perfect remedy for mild and moderate depression. This property also helps to relieve sleep disorders such as insomnia. A small pinch of saffron powder taken in milk should suffice.

Traditionally, this spice was used to relieve menstrual conditions and regulate the periods. It can also be used to relieve muscle pains and spasms. This herb also clears any clotting in the uterine system, which can lead to excessive bleeding. Pregnant women are, therefore, advised to take this spice in extremely minimal quantities.

Saffron is an antioxidant. Therefore it is very useful in the prevention of cancer. It also relieves fever and acne, and boosts memory and blood circulation. It is a natural aphrodisiac, effective in both men and women.

Keep in mind that saffron is the most expensive spice, which makes it a perfect target for counterfeiters. When using this herb, ensure that you use the genuine one, not an adulterated version.

Mentha piperita

Mint: Discovering the Huge Array of Uses

Mint (Photo credit: James Jardine)

Mint is part of the Genus Mentha in the Lamiaceae family, and there are a huge number of different species available for you to use. The different species are not incredibly distinct; however, it is believed that there are over 15 different varieties. All mints are considered to be pleasant to smell; however, they can also be used for medicines and for dietary requirements.

The leaves are extremely distinct on the Mentha plant and are arranged in pairs along the steam. The color of the plants varies from grey-green to dark green, and in some countries they can even be yellow. The mint plant also contains fruit, which houses one to four seeds, which can help to propagate the plant.

This perennial herb enjoys wet growing conditions, and thrives in moist soils, however, they can be found in several different countries. Mint is incredibly fast growing, and will spread over a huge distance if allowed to grow. Therefore, many people consider this plant to be invasive, if left to grow unattended.

Due to the incredible speedy growth of these plants, one plant will provide the average household with enough mint for all year. To control the growth, you may find it easier to place the mint in a pot or container, which will ensure that you are not over run with this plant. Having this plant in your garden is perfect to repel many insects and pests.

Mint leaves.
Mint leaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You can harvest mint at any time, and fresh mint leaves are perfect in many different dishes and beverages. Once picked you will need to use the leaves immediately, or store them in a refrigerator in a plastic bag. You may also want to consider freezing the mint leaves in ice cube trays and removing when needed.

Dried mint leaves are another fantastic way of taking advantage of this delicious herb, and these will need to be stored in an airtight container. There are many incredible health benefits from using the Mentha leaves in your cooking. You will find that this plant aids your digestion and stimulates your saliva glands.

Once these have been stimulated, your body will produce the enzymes, which help your body to digest your food. These plants will also help to relieve respiratory problems and coughs, and can help if you suffer with asthma. However, you need to be aware that too much mentha, can cause more problems, and panic attacks.

You will also find that this plant is excellent at helping with headaches and when you suffer from nausea. Some people use the plant for antiseptic purposes, and mint can help with acne and skin conditions. The plant can also be used to purify damaged skin and soothes burns and cuts, which you may have.

Bad breath can also be combated with mint, and will result in your mouth being cleaner and far fresher. The high levels of vitamin C, which is in the mint, will play a huge part in boosting the immune system and help fight viruses. There are also high levels of manganese present, which is an antioxidant, which targets the free radicals within your body.
High levels of amino acid are also present, which is excellent at helping to control mood swings, and will affect how you feel. This is often why people feel better after a cup of mint tea, and why it has an incredible calming effect. If you do not want to drink the tea, you can easily inhale the mint, which will have the same effect.

There are several different dishes that you can place the mint within to create delicious meals for everyone to enjoy. The leaves can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as it has a pleasant cool after taste. You may want to include the mint in ice creams, jellies, candies, and teas; however, it is also delicious with meat, especially lamb.

This image shows a Mint plant of the species M...
This image shows a Mint plant of the species Mentha gattefossei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some alcoholic drinks also have this plant included, and these make perfect ingredients for cocktails. Whether you want to eat, drink or use the mint in a natural remedy, it has a huge amount of uses for everyone. You will feel healthier, and have a better digestion after consuming the menthe plant, and be better informed about all of the incredible benefits.

See Also


Trifolium pratense - red clover

Trifolium pratense


The genus name “Trifolium” means three-leaved grass. The specific name “pratense” is latin for “found in meadows”.

Also Known as

  • red clover
  • beebread
  • broad red
  • cleaver grass
  • cow clover
  • cow grass
  • marl grass
  • meadow clover
  • meadow honeysuckle
  • meadow trefoil
  • purple clover
  • trefoil
  • wild clover

Identification Keys

  • perennial herbaceous
  • usually upright but may also creep on the ground, producing stems and fibrous roots at nodes
  • grows to 20-80 cm tall
  • alternate, palmate-compound leaves
  • leaves arise from a long, slender, branching downy stem
  • leave is trifoliate (with three leaflets)
  • leaflet oval to elliptical
  • leaflet 15–30 mm long and 8–15 mm broad, green with a characteristic pale crescent in the outer half of the leaf
  • leaflet has a V-shaped chevron in the outer half
  • a midrib runs down the leaflet length, creating a seam
  • rounded flower head with up to 60 tiny, bilateral-symmetrical, magenta, pea-like flowers
  • tiny brown seeds

Bloom Time

  • late spring – early fall


  • fields
  • disturbed habitats
  • trailsides
  • roadsides
  • parks
  • sunny places
  • meadows
  • pastures
  • open fields
  • lawns


  • Trifolium repens (white clover) resembles red clover, but it’s smaller with white flowers and leaves arising from separate stems
  • Oxalis spp. (wood sorrel), also edible, is often confused with clover, but it has heart-shaped and completely different flowers

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

flowering top


alterative, antioxidant, antispasmodic, aperient, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, oestrogenic



  • prevents hypertension

Respiratory system

  • antispasmodic for whooping-cough, dry cough, bronchitis and asthma

Immune system

  • useful as a detoxifying herb for cancer of the breast and lung
  • benefits lymphatic system

Musculoskeletal system

  • protects from osteoporosis
  • used for arthritis and gout

Reproductive system

  • increases follicle-stimulanting hormones
  • useful for menopausal issues such as hot flushes, night sweats and insomnia
  • helpful in mastitis
  • guard against prostate problems


  • apply poultices to skin problems and cancerous growth


  • avoid in bleeding disorders, pregnancy and breast-feeding
  • diseased clover can contain toxic alkaloids
  • use with caution with anticoagulants and contraceptives

Food Uses

Parts Used

flowers, leaves

Main Uses

potherb, salad, tea


  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B1, B3
  • vitamin E
  • calcium
  • chromium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium


  • add the raw flowers to salads
  • cook (10-15 min) the flowers in any dish that calls for vegetables. They cook in about 10 to 15 minutes
  • dehydrate flower, grind them into powder. Add to whole-grain flour to use in breads
  • make an infusion with the freshest flower heads and few leaves
  • cook (15 min) the leaves like other greens
  • sprouted seeds are edible in salads


Harvesting Season

  • the leaves are barely edible in early spring but can be used in tea
  • the flowers are at their peak in late spring, but good ones are also available in the summer and fall

Harvesting Methods

  • pick the young leaves and the flower heads by hand
  • collect the most attractive-looking flower heads
  • avoid those that still include some immature, green flowers
  • collect completely brown flowers (contain seeds) and use them to supplement the protein of whole grains in breads