About 2300 BCE, saffron was cultivated and used in parts of the Eastern Mediterranean. This plant was first developed in areas with specific climatic conditions and then spread throughout the Eurasia region and eventually reached parts of North Africa, North America, and Oceania. Saffron was cultivated in Isfahan during the Achaemenid Kingdom in the 5th century BC and at the Funeral was used. The use of this plant as perfume and medicine was also common in this age. The English word of saffron is derived from the Latin word of ‘safranum’ in the 12th century and the ancient French word of ‘safran’. Meanwhile, the Latin word of ‘safranum’ is derived from Persian word of ‘Zarparan’ or Arabic word of ‘Zaferan’ which means yellow.
1. Antidepressant Properties
Based on the researches of a research group, daily use of 80mg of saffron has obvious anti-depressant and clinical effects in comparing with lower doses. Equality or superiority of its effects in comparing with anti-depressant medicines like Fluoxetine, Imipramine and placebo has been reported. In this research the controlled double blind trial was performed on 60 patients with mild and moderate depression for 6 weeks. The patients were randomly divided in 2 groups (daily use of 40mg of saffron and daily use of 80mg of saffron). The findings showed that the saffron was effective in both groups, but in group that they received daily of 80mg saffron the clinical effects of antidepressant were more obvious which is statistically significant different. The published results of a research on laboratory mice in Quarterly of medicinal plants also showed that the use of saffron extract decreases the inactivity in mice. If the substance reduces inactive time, it has an anti-depressant effect. Based on this study, the anti-depressant effect of the saffron stigma will be likely due to the presence of Crocin and Safranal in it. Crocin is effective in dopaminergic pathways and reuptake inhibition of norepinephrine and Safranal is effective on serotonergic system. The other research confirms that use of 15g capsules of saffron (contains 300-350 mg raw extract of saffron) twice a day and for 8 weeks in depressed people helps to decrease depression signs in these people. The effects of this amount of saffron are similar to fluoxetine drug (an anti-depressant drug that is from reabsorption inhibitors group of serotonin).
2. Relieving Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Symptoms
The results of a study showed that the use of saffron supplement twice a day with amount of 15mg during two menstrual periods reduced significantly the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Based on another research, daily use of 30mg of saffron extract during the two menstrual periods reduced the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in 75% of women by 50% (in placebo group, 8%).Based on this research the symptoms of menstrual depression in 60% of participants women decreased by half while this amount was only 4% in the group of women that had consumed the placebo. Agha Hosseini et al. in another research showed the use of saffron will reduce symptoms of menstrual syndrome. According to this research the daily use of 30 mg of saffron extract will reduce the symptoms and menstrual pains. Use of this plant significantly reduces the symptoms and emotional and behavioral problems associated with menstrual syndrome.
3. Improving Liver Function
Iranian researchers published an article called “considering effect of saffron extract on electrophoretic pattern of serum protein components in Syrian male mice” in Scientific Journal of Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences. The results of this research show that the use of saffron extract increases Albumin in laboratory mice. Based on this research, the use of 100mg/kg doses and 200mg/kg saffron after 20 days in cured mice increases the serum level of GAMA and serum level of Alpha-2 Beta and albumin to globulin ratio (A kind of anti-body, that it secrets for immunologic respond to infections such as hepatitis and basophil number of cells). In the most of the patients with hepatitis IGM level is high. The use of saffron extract increases IgG density (IgG anti-body appears at the time of responding to a solution antigen) and monocytes number also increases. Albumins synthesis is done in the liver, increasing the amount of albumin indicates that liver function improvement is due to injection of saffron extract. Also, increasing globulin synthesis and decreasing A/G ratio indicate that saffron extract has the ability to enhance the immune system without creating of antigens stimulation. The study on laboratory small mice showed that with injection of saffron extract albumin to globulin ratio significantly reduces in all experimental groups in comparison to increasing saffron extract dose. Also albumin synthesis in different diseases especially in liver disease and often albumin to globulin ratio reduces in the plasma of those infected with these diseases. Considering the role of the liver in synthesis, the increasing synthesis of this substance can be seen as a sign of improving the activity of liver cells. Another research indicated that the daily use of 100mg of saffron for 6 weeks reduces the density of IGM.
4. Boosting Libido
In 2002, the result of Sunjay Kumar et al. research indicated the use of herbal capsule (tentex royal) including saffron powder and several other plants is caused to increase mating number and ejaculations number, reduce mating time and ejaculation and improve of erectile deficiency disease in mature Wistar mice and has a similar effect to the sexual stimulant drug of Sildenafil. After reviewing the stained texture of previously hypophysis, there was a significant increase in the number of basophil cells that are responsible for production of FSH (Follicle stimulant hormone) and LH of yellow object hormone and also observed significant increasing in amount of blood testosterone and number of sperms. In another research, which was published in Research-Scientific Journal of Medical Science and Health Services of Zanjan University, serum level of FSH, LH and testosterone increased in a group of mice which received 100mg for each kg of saffron extract in each 48 hours in comparing to control group. The results of this research showed that the saffron extract increases the serum level of gonadotropins of previously hypophysis and after that the serum level of testosterone also increases due to LH and FSH increasing.
5. Improving Cardiovascular System Function
Based on researches the use of 50mg of saffron extract twice a week for 6 weeks reduces the LDL oxidation in healthy people and the people with coronary artery disease. Based on this research the saffron extract regulates blood flow and cardiovascular function, use of this extract prevents formation of blood clots in the body. The research on rats showed that saffron has impressive effect on maintaining hemodynamic and left ventricular appropriate function. Based on other research, creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase significantly decrease in mice cured with saffron in comparing with the group which received Isoproterenol. These histological findings confirm saffron effect on some parts of heart. The researchers showed the effects of saffron crosin and safranal on decreasing blood pressure. In this research Crosin, safranal and aqueous extract of saffron reduce the blood pressure and dosage-dependent heart beat in laboratory mice. In other study Crostines reduced hypertrophy caused by norepinephrine in mice. Crostine increases the level of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide, dismutase, and catalase and glutathione peroxidase. In another research injection of crostine to rabbits fed with high cholesterol diet reduced cholesterol levels by half and prevents the onset of atherosclerosis.
6. Improving Respiratory Tract Function
Based on researches, saffron in the smooth muscle of Indian pig chip chain has a relatively strong stimulant effect on Beta-2 adrenergic receptors and antagonistic non-competitive effects on H1 histamine receptors and muscarinic receptors. Saffron has a relatively strong dilation effect on Indian pig isolated chip that it was even beyond the same level (a drug for patients with asthma, emphysema and bronchitis).Saffranal is partly caused the dilation effect of saffron. Saffranal has anti-cough effect on Indian pig but crosin does not have such an effect. Effectiveness of use a saffron- containing formulation (mixture of saffron 1gr and honey 300 gr) in curing pneumonia with 1 to 3ml doses twice daily associated with standard cure in comparison with group of 2 to 12 years old children for 3 months to the other children with pneumonia, results showed that children of the experimental group earlier cure in comparison with control group and until 6 months their disease did not recur Them. This formulation has a therapeutic and preventive role in children with pneumonia.
Crocin, Crocetin, Picrocrocin, Safranal, Zeaxanthin, Riboflavin and Thiamine.
In traditional medicine extract and tentorium of saffron facilitate digestion, appetite, stimulant, calming down, sweaty, expectorant, menstrual and abortion fetus. Saffron and its mentioned derives are used to cure liver disorders and gallbladder, spasm, teeth and gum pain, bloating, insomnia, depression, inflammation of the nasal mucosa and throat, convulsion, menstrual irregularities, painful menstruation, backache, coughing, asthma, bronchitis, fever, vomiting, measles, fool and urinary tract infection. This plant has warm nature and is a heart amplifier and tonic for the stomach, anticonvulsant, and neural medicine and is helpful for treatment of insomnia. Saffron is used for Ayurveda medicine (Indian traditional medicine) like adaptogen enhancing body resistance against stresses like trauma, anxiety and fatigue.