Saffron is a spice of Crocus sativus (Saffron crocus) which belongs to the family of Iridaceae and studies has advocated its role in disease cure. Its health management properties have been discussed in traditional prescriptions including Chinese, Ayurveda and Unani medicines. Crocus sativus has been reported its role as a sedative, expectorant, anti-asthma, emmenagogue, and adaptogenic agent.2 Different plant parts like peels, fruits, seeds and rind of Crocus sativus contain various biochemically active ingredients such as crocin, crocetin, and safranal in different proportion. These constituents have demonstrated the health-promoting effect through the modulation of various biological and physiological processes.
Top Health Effects of Saffron
Effect on Learning Behavior and Long-term Potentiation
The saffron extract and two of its main ingredients crocin and crocetin, improved memory and learning skills in ethanol-induced learning behavior impairments in mice and rats. Oral administration of saffron may be useful as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders and related memory impairment.
Effects on Ocular Blood Flow and Retinal Function
Crocin analogs isolated from saffron significantly increased the blood flow in the retina and choroid as well as facilitated retinal function recovery and it could be used to treat ischemic retinopathy and/or age-related macular degeneration.
Effect on Coronary Artery Disease
Fifty milligrams of saffron dissolved in 100ml of milk were administered twice a day to human subjects and the significant decrease in lipoprotein oxidation susceptibility in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) indicates the potential of saffron as an antioxidant.
In clinical trials have demonstrated that saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
Antinociceptive and Anti-inflammatory Effects
Saffron stigma and petal extracts exhibited antinociceptive effects in chemical pain tests as well as acute and/or chronic anti-inflammatory activity and these effects might be due to their content of flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanins, alkaloids, and saponins.
Crocetin, which is an important ingredient of saffron may be helpful in preventing Parkinsonism.