Crocus is a rare, pure and natural product that keeps the human body in excellent physical condition, with purity of spirit and increased physical and mental activities. It is a product of global interest and a wide use in many fields of science because there are no artificial substitutes for the plant and its stigmas. Many efforts have been made to find other natural products that possess these properties.
Because of its analgesic and soothing properties, saffron has been used since antiquity for food for its flavor, aroma and coloring properties, as well as for folk medicine for the treatment of certain diseases for centuries (Basker και Negbi, 1983).
The properties of the saffron could be utilized as a potential therapeutic agent for many diseases as evidenced by various biomedical studies
The interest in biological effects and possible medical applications of saffron has increased, especially those based on cytotoxic, anti-cancer and anti-neoplastic properties (Abdullaev, 2002. Abdullaev and Espinosa-Aguirre, 2004. Fernαndez, 2004. Magesh et al., 2006. Chryssanthi et al., 2009. Dalezis et al., 2009)
The main biological activity of saffron is based on its high antioxidant capacity.
In fact, the antioxidant property of saffron is well known and widely studied, as this property is responsible for many of its biomedical features. The extracts of the saffron exhibit remarkable intracellular antioxidant activity by binding and purifying the toxic residues of peroxidation products
The antioxidant property of safflower is responsible for the prevention of many diseases whose mechanisms involve oxidation.
Thus saffron may be widely used in medicine in the following fields:
- Suppressing the development of age-related harm (old age) (Farahmand SK, et al. 2013).,
- Prevention at the levels of inflammatory serum mediators (Byrami G, et al 2013).
- Significant anti-inflammatory activity and could potentially be used as an anti-arthritic agent (Rabe SZT, et al, 2015).
- Elimination of secondary complications associated with arthritis (Hemshekhar M, et al, 2012. Ding QH, et al 2013).
Wound healing, (Assimopoulou et al., 2005)
- In the treatment of heat-induced burns, the saffron extract cream (20%) results in a significantly increased re-epithelialization that could be explained by the antioxidant effects of this spice (Khorasani et al., 2008)].
Anticancer and Antineoplastic Action
As a preventive and complementary therapy in various forms of tumor and cancer, it acts as a potent anticancer agent (Chryssanthi DG, et al. 2011), inhibits MDA-MB-231 cell penetration by reducing MMP expression, (Chryssanthi DG, et al. 2011), can regulate the inflammatory processes (Xu GL, et al., 2009) involved in the competitive effect of CSE in NMDA (Berger F, et al., 2011)..
It is a very promising chemotherapeutic and protective agent in the treatment of cancer.
(Mousavi SH, et al., 2011. Rezaee R, et al., 2013). Rastgoo M, et al., 2013. Das I. et al., 2004, Abdullaev JF et al., 2004. Tavakkol-Afshari J. et al., 2008, Samarghandian S, Bathaie SZ et al., 2013).
- Reduces the carcinogenicity of the oral cavity (Manoharan S, et al., 2013),
- Is a potential chemo-therapeutic agent against breast cancer (Mousavi SH. et al., 2009, Chryssanthy DB, et al., 2007)
- Improves hepatic function and has chemopreventive action against liver cancer (Amin A, et al., 2011. Modaresi M, et al., 2010)
- Can be used to relieve the hepatic tissue oxidative stress (Mohammad R, et al., 2011).
- Treatment of nephrotoxicity and lung cancer caused by gentamicin (Samarghandian S, et al., 2011).
- As a chemotherapeutic agent in lung cancer (Samarghandian S, et al., 2010).
- Inhibits proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells and tumor progression (Dhar A, et al., Bakshi H, et al., 2010).
- Inhibits the development of Dalton lymphoma (Bakshi HA, et al., 2009).
- Has significant effects on the proliferation of human prostate (Samarghandian S, Shabestari MM 2013) and Large Intestine cancer cells (Kawabata K, et al., 2012. Aung HH, et al., Bajbouj K, et al., 2012. D’Alessandro AM, et al 2013).
- It is a candidate preventive agent for the prevention of colitis and the inflammation-associated neuroblastoma cell line is particularly susceptible to inhibition of growth by means of safranal as well as apoptotic cell death (Samarghandian S, et al., 2014).
Degenerative lesions of the peripheral and central nervous system (Urrutia et al., 2007)
- In the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (Akhondzadeh S, et al., 2010, 2010b. Khalili M, Hamzeh F 2010. Sadeghnia HR, et al., 2013) and contributing to the treatment of multiple sclerosis (Ghazavi A, et al., 2009)
- is useful in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy (Mousavi SH, et al., 2010),
- protects the brain from excessive oxidative stress (Zheng YQ, et al., 2007),
The crocetin penetrates the blood-brain barrier and enters the Central Nervous System (Lautenschlager M, et al., 2015)
- In the treatment of various types of neuropathic pain and as an adjunct to conventional drugs (Amin B, Hosseinzadeh H 2012).
- Improves the functioning of the injured sciatic nerve (Tamaddonfard E, et al., 2014).
Nervous – psychiatric disorders, accompanied by:
- Decline of memory, taking saffron results in strengthening it (Abe K, Saito H, 2000. Pitsikas N, Sakellaridis N., 2006. Papandreou MA, et al., 2011. Linardaki ZI, et al., 2013). Useful in relieving cognitive deficits (Ghadrdoost B, et al., 2011. Hosseinzadeh H, et al., 2012). Improving the retention of visual short-term memory (Ghodrat M, et al., 2014). Enhancing recognition and spatial memory (Pitsikas N, et al., 2007)
- It is effective in an obsessive-compulsive disorder (Georgiadou G, et al., 2012),
- Enhances attenuated behavioral deficits of schizophrenia type induced by the non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist of ketamine (Georgiadou G, et al., 2014).
- reduces stress anorexia (Halataei BAS, et al., 2011),
- Is an effective antidepressant and is used to treat mild to moderate depression. (Shahin A, et al., 2004. Akhondzadeh S, et al., 2005. Noorbala AA, et al., 2005, Shahmansouri N, et al., 2014). Crocin is more effective in neuronal damage, causing anxiolytic effects (Pitsikas N, et al., 2008), treatment of anxiety and depression, and reduces both metabolic and behavioral symptoms of stress (Shemshian M, et al., 2011. Hooshmandi Z, et al., 2011).
- The flower petals of Crocus sativus have also been shown to be nearly equivalent to that of fluoxetine (Prozac, Ladose) for the treatment of depression. According to a study published in Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry in 2007, 15 mg crocus sativus petals were as effective as Prozac 10 mg for the treatment of mild to moderate depression, achieving complete remission of the symptoms in 25% of the participants.
- sativus bulbs can be considered as new plant material for the treatment of depression (Wang Y, et al., 2010).
In the urogenital system
- produces a positive effect on the morphology of the sperm (Heidary M, et al, 2008),
- is effective in treating premenstrual syndrome (Agha-Hosseini M, et al, 2008)
- has a positive effect on erectile dysfunction (Shamsa Ali, et al., 2009),
- has the ability to modify reproductive activities (Nazem H, et al, 2009), and improve fertility (Ai J, et al, 2009)
- protects against genetic damage caused by anticancer agents (Premkumar K, ET AL, 2006)
- Improves ovule maturation and embryo development (Tavana S, et al., 2012).
- Prevention of renal ischemia during reperfusion after oxidative damage. (Hosseinzadeh H, Sadeghnia HR, Ziaee T, Danaee A, 2005b)
- Has aphrodisiac activity (Hosseinzadeh H, et al., 2008).
- increases the resistance of the AV node (Khori V, et al, 2012),
- Protects the heart from ischemia (Joukar S, et al., 2010. Vakili A, et al., 2014. Sachdeva J, et al 2012., Chahine N, et al 2013., Mehdizadeh R, et al 2013) and prevents heart failure (Dianat M, et al, 2014).
- has a strong inhibitory effect on the guinea pigs’ calcium pump and inhibits histamine receptors (H1) (Boskadady MH, et al., 2008, 2010)
- protects against oxidative damage and has cardiovascular protective effects (Shen XC, Qian ZY 2006)
- Is cardioprotective in isoproterenol-induced cardiac and diazinone-induced cardiac and vascular toxicity (Goyal SN, et al., 2010. Razavi BM, et al., 2013. Razavi BM, et al., 2014).
- Interferes with kidney or brain tissue damage caused by ischemia – reperfusion (I / R) (Hosseinzadeh et al., 2007b).
- Protective action against ischemia-reperfusion of the lower limbs (Hosseinzadeh H, et al, 2009).
Hypolipidemic anti-cholesterol action
- It significantly reduces lipid peroxidation and increased activity of superoxide dismutase (Makhlouf H, et al., 2011. Sheng L, et al, 2006, Asdaq SMB, Inamdar MN 2009),
- Crocine and crocetin have an inhibitory effect on the elevated levels of cholesterol and serum triglycerides (Gainer JL, Jones JR, 1975).
In Arterial Hypertension
- Higher dose saffron (400 mg) significantly reduces orthostatic systolic blood pressure and reduces mean arterial pressures and mildly reduces certain blood parameters such as red blood cells, hemoglobin, hematocrit and platelets.
- Improves acetylcholine induced vascular relaxation in hypertension. (Mancini A, et al 2014).
Damage to the lungs
- Is effective in relieving lung cell inflammation (Boskabady MH, et al, 2012), and could be useful in asthma (Mahmoudabady M, et al., 2013. Vosooghi S, et al., 2013).
- Crocetin increases alveolar oxygen transport and enhances pulmonary oxygenation (Giaccio M, Ahmad AS, et al F (2005)]
- prevents pulmonary discomfort by improving oxidative damage
- Prevent cataractogenesis (Makri OE, et al., 2013. Fadai F, et al., 2014),
- Protects the photoreceptors from retinal strain (Maccarone R, et al., 2008).
- Was found to significantly increase blood flow to the retina and choroid and facilitate functional retinal repair with electroretinog and has protective effects against retinopathy (Yamauchi M, et al., 2011).
- May be potentially useful in retarding retinal degeneration in patients with retinitis pigmentosa (Fernandez-Sanchez L, et al 2012).
- Another important property that turns saffron into a beneficial spice for health is its antimicrobial action. This has been studied for different parts of the saffron. It is known that other spices (garlic, basil) are antibacterial agents (Low Dog, 2006. Pintado C, et , 2011).
- Acts as an antiseptic agent (Golmohammadzadeh S, et al., 2010).
In Alimentary system
- The extracts of saffron, crocine and safranal are effective against ulcer against Helicobacter pylori (Nakhaei κ.ά., 2008). Saffron inhibits the secretion of gastric acid and stimulates the secretion of mucus as a barrier to damage (Al-Mofleh et al., 2006).
- prevents gastric lesions, increases lipid peroxidation and reduces indomethacin-induced glutathione levels, results comparable to omeprazole (Losec, Pernazol, Elkostop, Meprolen κλπ), a proton pump inhibitor used as an anti-ulcer agent (Kianbakht και Mozaffari 2009)
- Achieving stomach fullness and consequently contributing to diet programs for weight loss (Gout B, et al., 2010).
- The bulb the teats and leaves have metal chelating properties (Sanchez-Vioque R, et al., 2012).
Against Diabetes Mellitus
- As a hypolipidemic, antioxidant and immunoregulatory factor (Khajuria DK, et al., 2010), it affects glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity (Kang C, et al., 2012)
- As well as many other activities (Nair SC, Pannikar B, Pannikar KR 1991. Nair SC, et al., 1994. Nair SC, et al., 1995. Salomi MJ, et al., 1991a.Garcia-Olmo D (1999. Morjani, H. 1990. Morjani H, Tarantilis P, Polissiou M, Manfait M (1990. Escribano J, et al., Abdullaev JF (1994. Abdullaev JF 2002. Tseng TH, et al., 1995. Premkumar K, et al., 1977).
The water-methanolic extract of saffron
- Has hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects (Arasteh A, et al., 2010).
- Is useful in the antidiabetic therapy of type 2 diabetes (Maeda A, et al., 2014).
- alleviation of platelet apoptosis caused by viper poison (Santhosh MS, et al, 2013), and is used as an antivenin vaccine component (Santhosh MS, et al, 2014)
- Induces cellular defense systems (Das I, et al., 2010) and genotoxin protection (Premkumar K, et al., 2003)
Saponins are effective additives for protein-based vaccines (Castro-Diaz N, et al 2012).