Saffron Aroma in Associative Memory


What is an associative memory?

Julie’s experiences about saffron aroma from her work experience in a food company is fascinating.

Julie is a flavor chemist. Julie’s family loves saffron dishes. Saffron spice’s most abundant constituent, safranal, is an essential oil that gives it its distinct aroma. The aroma triggers particular patterns of activity in our brain, and joins the others, like the smell of coffee, or a particular scent, or a smell of a birthday cake; become linked with one another in a vast associative network of neurons in the hippocampus and becomes a fixed association. For example, a very specific key, saffron aroma tasted in a saffron party unlock the whole of association. The original fade away from memory lights up like a candlelight and suddenly you’re back in the memory. A particular scent used by your girlfriend on our first date resurface momentarily.

Marcel has known saffron spice since he was a child. He does not remember when exactly he fell in love with the saffron flavor. Marcel knew only its culinary use. His mother used to add enough saffron to a pan of bubbling rice to make it be a fabulous dish, and they would all love it. Ever since Marcel became Julie’s friend, he becomes more enthusiastic about finding a connection of saffron flavor in remembering past events erased by memory.

Marcel believes that there is a memory connected between the saffron dishes and important social events. Marcel hears many stories about how the memory of the smell or taste of saffron improved memory loss. For example, Marcel sees the influence of the memory of saffron in older adults’ favorite dishes that have been enjoyed across the generations and cultures. In his research, Marcel found many documentations of use of saffron in many areas of medicine. The saffron flower’s medicinal use expresses complexity and uncertainty.

Saffron is a wonder spice. It has been widely used as an herbal medicine since ancient times. Saffron promotes learning and boosts memory. Hence, scientists are confident that saffron would be useful in the treatment of age-linked cognitive impairment. Recent studies in experimental animals have demonstrated that saffron extract does affect learning. This effect was attributed to crocin and opened up its future possibilities as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders that accompany memory loss.

Madeleine believes that she has discovered the secret of saffron spice. The secret is in a particular variety of saffron. Depending upon the type where it is grown and how it is handled, its potency and efficacy are as different as its color and fragrance.

Madeleine convinced Marcel that she had studied many varieties of saffron in the past to understand them and to have kept notes. She believes that a certain variety saffron in a diet can help improve mild cognitive impairments of old age.


The world is full of good people. You have to find one.

Marcel found one. Julie is one of them.

Selina’s student at art school, Julie, is Marcel’s new found friend. Julie lives nearby in Commonwealth Senior Living in Williamsburg. There is a good bus service between the two places where Julie and Marcel live. Marcel and Julie meet often. They both like to talk.  At times it is very difficult for Marcel to continue the conversation but Marcel is also a good listener.

Julie is different in many ways. Julie is an enthusiastic person. At times she is dominating talker and aggressive She seems to know lot about life. She knows everything. Always ready to help. Julie has a wonderful memory. She describes things as if like a photographic memory. Her memories about her parent’s last few years must have been heart breaking. Whenever she talks about it, she almost breaks down. Alzheimer’s takes toll on its caregivers.

Sometime, Marcel complains about too many things about his life. He found Julie has the patience for it. Marcel does not know much about Alzheimer’s. He has Alzheimer’s and has many unanswered questions for his well-beings. Nobody seems to care. Marcel wonders whether Julie would have any answer for him.

Julie got interested in caring people with Alzheimer’s, as her both parents had Alzheimer’s, and she cared for them till the end.

Julie asked Marcel straight out: “What’s bothering you? I happened to know you a little bit from Selina. So, to save both of our time, please get straight to the point.” Marcel knew Julie is smart.

Julie asked Marcel, “When, exactly, did you or your doctors suspected know about your possible dementia? Was it right after his mini-stroke suffered more than five years ago? Or was it just a recent observation and diagnosis by a neurologist?”

It is difficult for Marcel, but he thought to himself that he is going to give it a try. Marcel explained to Julie his health situation.

After much thought, Marcel answered: “It is both. After the stroke, one doctor only mentioned the word dementia. He did not do anything about it, nor the doctor explained anything to me. A couple of years later, when I started getting bothered by memory loss, my doctor referred Marcel to a neurologist, and it took about six months for the neurologist to diagnose and start Marcel with a new medication for Alzheimer’s.”

Marcel began to feel a little better. Marcel started to read and write. Julie knew that her parents time these medications were not available.

Marcel feels that his expectations for himself and for others are high and demanding.

Marcel demands it of himself and the people around him, ended up: nobody likes him anymore.


The Secret of Saffron

The Secret of Saffron

 Sometimes, Marcel wonders, what is so special about saffron! Marcel worked with Selina in her art school on many days to know more about the saffron. Selina would go through her album with paintings and photos of saffron and slowly explain to Marcel what she knows about saffron. Selina once told Marcel, “I remember better when I paint.”[1] Marcel pays attention what Selina has to say because, at times, it is tough for her to describe what she knows. Marcel listened very attentively what she says.

She always carries an album and her portable painting kit with her wherever she goes. Selina mostly depicts the variety of saffron flowers and their inhabitants, and tells many stories of growing and gathering saffron and its many uses. Marcel have had saffron flavored dishes before but never seen a flower or does not quite know what saffron is like. Selina showed Marcel a page from one of her albums depicting a saffron flower.

Selina believes that she has discovered the secret of saffron. The secret is in a particular variety of saffron. Depending upon the type where it is grown and how it is handled, its potency and efficacy are different as its color and fragrance.

Selina convinced Marcel that she had studied many varieties of saffron in the past to understand them and have kept notes. She believes that certain variety saffron in diet can help improve mild cognitive impairments at old age. As an artist, Selina specializes in saffron color –red, yellow and orange. The unique color of saffron may stimulate your brain, while color painting is a known way to rejuvenate your mind. The presence of many carotenoids in saffron causes its intense color. The single most important saffron pigment carotenoid such as crocin cause the intense color of saffron. Marcel felt that day that in spite of her illness Selina was doing a good job.

 The History:

Saffron was known to the Sumerians (modern days southern Iraqis) almost 5,000 years ago. The documented history of saffron cultivation spans more than three millennia.[2]…Saffron was detailed in 7th century BC Assyrian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal. Documentation of saffron’s use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered.

Its propagation is possible only via corms; for saffron to be distributed over vast distances requires human help. Its’ beautiful flowers cannot produce any seeds. Its propagation is possible only via corms. Distribution over larger distance requires human help. Saffron, Crocus sativus probably appeared first in Crete (Greece).

Iran’s southern provinces, Kerman and Khorasan region represent bulk of modern saffron production. Greece and Morocco and India produces large quantities of saffron. Microscale production of saffron can be found in other parts of the world, including the United States. Saffron is not widely used in America because of culture. Europeans introduced saffron to Americas when immigrant brought corms with their luggage. American saffron cultivation survives into modern days, mainly in Pennsylvania. In Europe, saffron production is almost limited to the Mediterranean. Spanish (La Mancha) saffron has a reputation to be of high quality.

In recent days Saffron is cultivated from the Spain and India (Kashmir). Stories are diverse depending on where it is grown or found. Spanish saffron maybe a good variety. Kashmiri saffron has a high reputation but is hardly available outside India. It is produced in a small area around a village town in Jammu and Kashmir. Flowers show up for an about two weeks at the end of October or the beginning of November. They are picked from the plants (to stimulate more flower formation), and styles are separated and waste afterward. Including the final drying of the styles, all the work is done by families that use little or no modern technology.


[2] Saffron – Wikipedia


I believe saffron diet may help to remember things.

I begin a new way of seeing things. For example, I see the influence of the memory of saffron in elderly person’s favorite dishes that have been enjoyed across the generations and cultures. I see the world in a new light, thinking of memory loss in the elderly. I believe that there is a memory connection between the saffron dishes and important social events. I hear many stories about how the memory smell or taste saffron improved memory loss.

In my research, I found many documentations of use of saffron in many areas of medicine. Saffron flower’s medicinal use expresses complexity and uncertainty. I focused my writing here on memory enhancing and its antidepressant effect.

A recent television show has caused quite a surge of renewed interest in this exotic spice. Saffron has extraordinary healing power. It may, in fact, hold promise for serious neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease…

In India saffron tea is very popular. It is said: “one who has not eaten the saffron applied dish, has eaten nothing in the world.” The point is that an elderly remembers the flavor of saffron tea and brings many memories along with it. Old memory of having saffron tea helped them to remember old events that happened years ago. Saffron is a popular spice in all international cuisines.

Sorry to Say: “Good Bye Selina.”

It was a Sunday morning when a doorbell rang to Marcel’s home and it was Marcel’s wife who opened the door. At the door, it was Lisa and Robert. They never visited Marcels before at their place. So, Marcels were surprised. They invited Lisa and Robert in and had them sit comfortably in the living room. Lisa and Robert realized that Marcels were surprised.

Lisa is the one who said in a low voice: “We are going to see Sofia, would you two like to come along with us?”

Marcel said, looking towards his wife for instant approval: “Sure, what’s wrong?”

Robert answered, without looking towards his wife (Lisa started crying): “Just heard from David that Selina passed away. Selina’s sudden death was due to falling downhill while walking in a village. It was an instant death. Bobby was with her.” They did not know anything more.

“We have to tell that to Sofia. Find out the details later,” said Marcel’s wife.

“Do not know how to tell her,” said Lisa.

“Yes, it is a big issue.” Marcel sat down in a chair and said we need to figure this out. Sofia won’t be able to take it. It’s hard for Marcel’s too.

While all four were thinking and their brains were going numb, Marcel’s wife volunteered to tell Sofia. All were a bit relieved. Marcel’s wife suggested that one of them call Sofia and meet them at a nearby children’s park and give a reason, like, Marcel wants to talk to Sofia—nothing more. She suggested that Robert should make the call just in case Lisa started crying over the phone. Robert agreed. The plan worked, and Sofia did show up.

All of them met at a children’s park that same afternoon. Sofia was surprised to see all of them there and noticed their mood from their faces.

Before any conversion started, Marcel’s wife said, just like a command: “Sofia, sit down beside me.” And then, she held her hand and delivered these words: “Sofia your mama’s soul is in heaven. May God be with her.”

Sofia was as calm as a stone. Her tear drops were slowly sliding down the chin like little water fountains on a mountain, sliding down slowly. Marcel knew Sofia is a strong woman. So is Marcel’s wife. They hugged, and all of us just stood there watching.

Later that day, Marcel learned from Robert that Amina, David, Nadia, and Reza already took a flight to Morocco on Sunday early in the morning. Sofia, Lisa, and Robert will fly tomorrow morning. Marcel’s wife and Marcel do not travel at all. Marcel, he was sad.

It was Selina’s wish that she should lay to rest near a Saffron field. So, the family made the arrangements accordingly.

In a week, Marcel met Sofia, Lisa, and Robert. They were back from Morocco. Everything went well as planned. The last word that Selina spoke was “Sofi,”

A month later, Marcel heard that Sofia made a new commitment to spend the rest of her life as a caregiver. She decided to work in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Mixed Reality

I live in a mixed reality. My time and mind are engaged with my purpose in my life—the rest of it. I spend a good part of my day, reading and writing. What I do, I feel is very hard to do, yet continue to do it with pleasure (if I can feel it). I do it because I want to do it. There are millions in the world are in the same predicament. I want them to know that you can live a normal life. My next book is about that. I am working.

My emotional part of the memory is gone. It is a different feeling. You exist in a vacuum. Like, I know somebody for fifteen years, all the memories are not erased, may be only part of it. The emotional feeling has been erased. I am still a part of the world, but, in reality, I feel I am gone to a different world. I am all alone. Even at home, I live alone in my mind.

I read about ‘brain science.’ The knowledge of memory functions is new. The authors are telling me that it is only last twenty years, the science of mind is revealing. We are in a new realization phase. We are living longer. New brain cells are possible. Neuron firing and new connections have been evidenced. You can live well at old age. Can be different.