“This plant is supposed to be used for an anti-dandruff cream,” notes Dr. John Lasky, associate professor of dermatology and clinical practice in the Division of Dermatology at the University of Virginia Health System.
The herb has many medicinal properties, particularly as a remedy for the skin’s dryness and hair loss. Although there is some preliminary evidence that it might help prevent hair loss in hair transplants, there are no scientific studies proving it works in that way, says Dr. Lasky. “But it might be helpful for people with dry hair,” he says.
However, Saffron may be harmful for people whose bodies naturally accumulate high levels of sebum, an oily substance.
“When you use Saffron, you may start producing very high levels of sebum, or oils, that may make it difficult for the skin to heal even when the underlying skin condition seems to be under control,” says Dr. Lasky. “The sebum will also give you the sensation that your skin might be aching, even when the underlying condition is otherwise healthy.”
To be effective, Saffron should be used in a way that encourages the body to release those oils into the scalp, explains Dr. Lasky. “This way, the body can soak up all the sebum before it goes down into the hair roots,” he says.
The downside of taking Saffron in great amounts, he says, is that the plant is high in toxic alkaloids — including the indole alkaloids, which are found in drugs, prescription medications, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, lawn treatments and more.
“While it is legal to buy the herb in any form, especially dried and ground, it really shouldn’t be taken by anyone other than those who know what they’re doing,” says Lasky. “You should only use dried Saffron in foods that are made for a limited amount of time, or those that you are taking at specific times of the day.”
If you have been advised to use Saffron to prevent dandruff, or other skin conditions in general, “Do not use anything with Saffron, including Saffron essential oil, in products,” warns Dr. Lasky. “If you are taking a product with Saffron, never take more than what you are prescribed.”
To reduce the toxicity of Saffron, you would need to take
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