Research on Saffron

Clinical Studies
Research Shows the Incredible Benefits of Saffron

Avicenna Journal of Phytomed
Topic:  The effects of Crocus sativus (saffron) and its constituents on nervous system:  A review
Sep-October 2015

"  Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the extracts of C. sativus and its constituents (crocetin, crocins, safranal) implies saffron therapeutic potential for various nervous system disorders. Based on the literature, beneficial effects of the plant and its components on neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer and Parkinson's disease are mainly due to their interactions with cholinergic, dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems. It is assumed that saffron anticonvulsant and analgesic properties and its effects on morphine withdrawal and rewarding properties of morphine might be due to an interaction between saffron, GABA and opioid system."  *>  

University of L'Aquila, Italy - Visual Neuroscience
Topic:  Saffron and Retina:  Neuro-protection and pharmacokinetic 
December 2014

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a retinal neurodegenerative disease whose development and progression are the results of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental risk factors. Both oxidative stress and chronic inflammation play a significant role in the pathogenesis of AMD. Recently, a randomized clinical trial showed that in patients with early AMD, dietary supplementation with saffron was able to improve significantly the retinal flicker sensitivity suggesting neuroprotective effect of the compound. Here, we examine the progress of saffron dietary supplementation both in animal model and AMD patients, and discuss the potential and safety for using dietary saffron to treat retinal degeneration. *>   


University of L’Aquila, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy
Topic:  Antitumor Effects of Saffron-Derived Carotenoids in Prostate Cancer Cell Models  
May 2014
"  Crocus sativus L. extracts (saffron) are rich in carotenoids. Preclinical studies have shown that dietary intake of carotenoids has antitumor effects suggesting their potential preventive and/or therapeutic roles.  The highly water-soluble carotenoids, crocins, are responsible for the majority of its color and represent the major components of Saffron. The bitter taste of saffron is attributed to picrocrocin, a degradation product of the zeaxanthin carotenoid and also a monoterpene glycoside precursor of safranal. Safranal is an aromatic aldehyde that is the main component of plant volatile oil. Studies with cultured human malignant cell lines have demonstrated anti tumor and anticancer activity of saffron". *>

Human Psychopharmacology- Clinical & Experimental
Topic:  Saffron in treating major depressive disorder
November 2013
"  The purpose of this study was to conduct a meta-analysis of published randomized controlled trials examining the effects of saffron supplementation on symptoms of depression among participants with MDD.  Based on our pre-specified criteria, five randomized controlled trials (n= 2 placebo controlled trials, n= 3 antidepressant controlled trials) were included in our review. A large effect size was found for saffron supplementation vs placebo control in treating depressive symptoms, revealing that saffron supplementation significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to the placebo control.  Findings from clinical trials conducted to date indicate that saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with MDD." Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

Journal Psychopharmacology
Topic: Effect of saffron on fluoxetine-induced sexual impairment in men
October 2012

"  This was a 4-week randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Thirty-six married male patients with major depressive disorder whose depressive symptoms had been stabilized on fluoxetine and had subjective complaints of sexual impairment entered the study. The patients were randomly assigned to saffron (15mg twice per day) or placebo for 4weeks. International Index of Erectile Function scale was used to assess sexual function at baseline and weeks 2 and 4."  Conclusions:  Saffron is a tolerable and efficacious treatment for fluoxetine-related erectile dysfunction."  

Medical Research Center
University of Alberta, Canada
Topic:  Saffron and Neuro-inflammation (multiple sclerosis)
November 2011
" A compound in saffron, known as crocin, that exerts a protective effect in brain cell cultures and other models of MS, helps damaged cells that make myelin (insulation around nerves) in the brain. MS is characterized by inflamed brain cells that have lost this productive insulation, which ultimately leads to neuro degeneration". * Saffron and multiple sclerosis 

Hepatology Journal - American Ass. 
for the Study of Liver Diseases
Topic:  Saffron and Liver cancer
February 2011
" New research suggests that saffron provides a significant chemopreventive effect against liver cancer in animal models. When saffron was administered to rats with diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced liver cancer an inhibition of cell proliferation and stimulation of apoptosis was observed ".  * Saffron shows promise in preventing liver cancer

Review Article Tehran Heart Center
Topic: Saffron and Heart Disease Protection
January 2011

"  Antioxidants in saffron tea can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The flavonoids, especially lycopene, found in saffron can provide added protection. A clinical trial at the Department of Medicine and Indigenous Drug Research Center showed positive effects of saffron on cardiovascular diseases.  The study involved 20 participants, including 10 with heart diseases. According to the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, all the participants showed improved health, but those with cardiovascular diseases showed more progress. In addition, saffron has been found to be the richest source of riboflavin. The blood and severity of atherosclerosis, thus reducing the chances of heart attacks. It may be one of the prime reasons that in Spain, where Saffron is consumed liberally, the incidence of cardiovascular diseases is quite low. The crocetin present in saffron is found to increase the yield of antibiotics. Two compounds of safranal are supposed to increase antibacterial and antiviral physiological activity in the body."  * Cardiovascular Effects of Saffron: An Evidence-Based Review


African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Topic: Saffron as anti-cancer and anti-tumor
November 2010

"  Cancer continues to represent the largest cause of mortality in the world and claims over 6 million lives each year. An extremely promising strategy for cancer prevention today is chemoprevention, which is defined as the use of synthetic or natural agents (alone or in combination) to block the development of cancer in human beings. Plants, vegetables, herbs and spices used in folk and traditional medicine have been accepted currently as one of the main sources of cancer chemopreventive drug discovery and development. This review gives an overview from one of this herbs and spices that is saffron. The chemical composition of saffron has attracted the interest of several research groups during the last decades, and among the estimated more than 150 volatile and several nonvolatile compounds of saffron, approximately 40 – 50 constituents have already been identified. Oral administration of saffron extract inhibited the growth of mouse tumors that were derived from three different kinds of cancer cells and significantly increased the life spans of treated tumor-bearing mice."  * Impact of saffron as an anti-cancer and anti-tumor herb


Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics
Topic: Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
June 1, 2010
Herbal medicines have been used in the treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia but with variable response. Crocus sativus L.(saffron) may inhibit the aggregation and deposition of amyloid β in the human brain and may therefore be useful in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Forty-six patients with probable AD were screened for a 16-week, double-blind study of parallel groups of patients with mild to moderate AD. The psychometric measures, which included AD assessment scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), and clinical dementia rating scale-sums of boxes, were performed to monitor the global cognitive and clinical profiles of the patients. Patients were randomly assigned to receive capsule saffron 30mg/day (15mg twice per day) (Group A) or capsule placebo (two capsules per day) for a 16-week study.


The Vision Centre at the 
University of Sydney
Topic:  Saffron and Loss of Sight
February 2010
"  The golden herb saffron may hold the key to preventing the loss of sight in the elderly.. a breakthrough study showed vision improvements after taking Saffron tablets for 3 months, but when they stopped taking the pill the effect quickly disappeared." * Researchers strike gold - saffron found to help vision loss in elderly

Topic: Antioxidant Properties of Saffron
September 2010
" Saffron stigmas were found to possess antioxidant activity, hence, saffron is a promising natural product in this respect. Different solvents affected the total phenolic and flavonoid contents of the extracts and led to the observation of different antioxidative efficacy. The gallic acid and pyrogallol asbioactive compounds present in saffron stigma contributed in its antioxidant activity. It is suggestedthat saffron stigma besides being colorant could play a role as antioxidant source, which might enhance the quality of the products in functional foods, beverages, drinks, pharmaceutical and cosmaceutical industries". 

Journal of Psychopharmacology
Berlin/ Heidelberg
Topic:  Saffron and Alzheimer
January 2010

"The possible efficacy of saffron (Crocus sativus) in the management of memory loss. Saffron was found to be as effective as donepezil in the treatment of mild-to moderate Alzheimer disease.

Administration of saffron 30mg/day (15 mg twice daily) was found to be as effective as donepezil for treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer Disease in the subjects of 55 years and older.  

In another study, 46 patients of mild-to-moderate AD were treated by saffron for 16 weeks.  The results showed that the cognitive function in saffron-treated group were significantly better than placebo Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial"


British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Topic:  Saffron and PMS
December:  2008
" Supplementing with saffron could bring relief to women suffering from PMS. The double blind placebo controlled study included 50 women between the ages of 20 and 45 who had regular menstrual cycles and had experience PMS symptoms for six months or longer. The coup of women was randomly divided to either get a 15 milligram (15mg) supplement of saffron or a capsule placebo twice a day for two menstrual cycles. The women taking the saffron supplement experience significant relief both in terms of PMS and depression symptoms as compared to the women who took a placebo capsule."  

Journal of Ethnopharmacology:
Topic: Saffron and Depression
September 2004
"  Taking 30 milligrams of saffron a day for 6 weeks has the same depression reducing properties as 20 milligrams of fluoxetine (Prozac).  The objective was to assess the efficacy of the stigmas of Crocus sativus (saffron) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in a 6-week double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized trial. Forty adult outpatients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition for major depression based on the structured clinical interview for DSM IV participated in the trial. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-centre and randomized trial, patients were randomly assigned to receive a capsule of saffron 30 mg day (BD) (Group 1) or a capsule of placebo (BD) (Group 2) for a 6-week study. At 6 weeks, Crocus sativus produced a significantly better outcome on the Hamilton depression rating scale. The results of the study indicate the efficacy of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild to moderate depression."  * Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial 

Journal of Experimental Biology and Medicine
Topic:  Saffron and Cancer
August 2001
"  Saffron was touted by researchers as having anti-tumor benefits and cancer prevention properties, due in part to its high content of crocin, a carotenoid.  "