The saffron flower, from the dining table to the laboratory

Doctors Dolores Mingarro and Nuria Acero de Mesa from the Natural Products Research Group at the CEU San Pablo University and Eva Bielsa Pons, from the company Biocosmética la flor del azafrán SL,  have obtained a national patent  for successfully testing the antioxidant and dermo-protective effect of saffron flower extracts. These properties help fight cell aging and fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress.As Dr. Muñoz-Mingarro explains, “After studying in the laboratory the discarded saffron bio-waste, the remains of the flower once the spice is separated, , we discovered that the extracts contained active principles  showing antioxidant and dermo-protective properties – and these could be useful in cosmetic products”.

The spice is obtained from the deep red stigmas of the Crocus sativa L. flower (Iridaceae) and  this process,  is highly labour-intensive. “The collection of the flower in the field and the separation of the stigma, which is called unblading, are very expensive tasks since they are totally manual. This makes saffron the most expensive spice in the world”, explains Dr. Acero. “The process generates a large amount of bio-waste, mainly made of tepals - undifferentiated petals and sepals - which until now were considered useless, and thereforediscarded,”.

The researchers recount the origins of their research. “The study began with the University’s Natural Products research group being approached by the head of the company, Eva Bielsa, who had been given the contact through a former student of the CEU USP School of Pharmacy. Eva’s father, Antonio Bielsa, had returned to the traditional cultivation of organic saffron in Vinaceite, a village in Teruel, and brought us samples of the floral remains for analysis.We did not hesitate to help them  as there was the possibility of finding a use for this bio-waste”. And now they have a national patent and are waiting for their findings to be published.

Eva Bielsa, believes the properties of the extracts of saffron floral waste could be made use of in the world of  cosmetics. As a result, a Biocosmetics line has been created -Saffron treasure-  and is currently being commercialized. The product places value on ??the floral bio-residue of saffron through the use of natural resources. whilst also displayingcommitment to the environment, tradition, and sustainable agriculture, "As researchers, we are very satisfied with this collaboration, because it implies the creation of a sustainable product and allows the use of biological remains that would otherwise be worthless", highlights Nuria Acero.

  • Palabras clave
  • Biocosmetics
  • Saffron flower
  • Investigation
  • Biowaste
  • Antioxidant
  • Dermoprotector


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