Research on Saffron

Research on Saffron

Some International Published Medicine Researches:





Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: A pilot double –blind randomized trail.

Shahin Akhondzadeh, Hasan Fallah-Pour, Khosro Afkham Psychiatric Research Center, Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, , Tehran University of Medical Sciences,

Tehran, Iran.

Amir Hossein Jamshidi and Farahnaz Khalighi-Cigaroudi, Facuty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



Background: The morbidity and mortality associated with depression are considerable and continue to increase. Depression currently ranks fourth among the major causes of disability worldwide, after lower respiratory infections, prenatal conditions, and HIV/AIDS. Crocus sativus L. is used to treat depression. Many Medicinal plants textbooks refer to this indication whereas there is no evidence-based documents. Our objective was to compare the efficacy of stigmas of Crocus sativus (saffron) with imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in 6- week pilot double-bind randomized trail.

Methods: Thirty 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 trail. Patients have a baseline Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression score of at least 18. In this double-blind, single-center trail, patients were randomly assigned to receive capsule of saffron 30 mg/day (TDS) (Group 1) and capsule o imipramine 100 mg/day (TDS) (Group 2) for a 6-week study.

Results: Saffron at this dose was found to be effective similar to imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (F=2.91, d.f.= 1, P=0.09). In the imipramine group anticholinergic effect sush as dry mouth and also sedation was observed more often that was predictable.

Conclusion: The main overall finding from this study is that saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. To the best of our knowledge this is the first clinical trail that supports this indication for saffron. A large-scale trail with placebo control is warranted.

02 September 2004-

BMC Complementary

and Alternative Medicine


Study of antidepressant effect of aqueous and ethanolic extract of Crocus sativus in mice


Gholamreza Karimi, Ph.D. Hossein Hosseinzadeh. Ph. D. Puran Khaleghpanah. Pharm.D.

Department of Pharmacodynamics and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. Mashhad, Iran.




The effects of aqueous and ethanolic extract of Crocus sativus stigma and petal were studied for the antidepressant activity according to the forced swimming test in mice. The aqueous and ethanolic extracts of stigma and petal decreased immobility time in comparison with normal saline (P< 0.05). The antidepressant effect of imipramine (30 mg/Kg) was significantly (P<0.05) more than the aqueous and ethanolic extract of stigma and petal. In few doses, there were no difference among the immobility time of extracts and imipramine (15 mg/Kg). On the basis of these results, Crocus sativus stigma and petal extracts showed antidepressant effect.

Autumn 2001

JBMS, Vol. 4, No 3,


October 2003

1st International Symposium on Saffron Biology and Biotechnology – ISSBB 2003


Cancer Chemo preventive and Tumoricidal Properties of saffron (Crocus sativus L.)


Fikrat I. Abdullaev

Laboratory of Experimental Oncology, National Institute of Pediatrics, Mexico City 04530, Mexico.



Since cancer is the most common cause of death in the world population, the possibility that readily available natural sub-sciences from plants, vegetables, herbs and spices may be beneficial the prevention of cancer warrants closer examination. Saffron in filaments is the dried, dark red stigmata of Crocus sativus L. flowers and it is used as a spice, food colorant, and a drug in medicine. A growing body of research has demonstrated that saffron extract itself and its main constituents, the carotenoids, possess chemo preventive properties against cancer. This review discusses recent literature data and our results on the cancer chemo preventive activities of saffron and its main ingredients.



Bio Med Vol. 227(1):



In vitro studies on the selective cytotoxic effect of crocetin and quercetin


Department of Medical Biochemistry, Dr, A.L.M. PG Institute of Basic Medical Sciences,


Taramani Campus, University of Madras, Chennai-600 113, India


Department of Virology, King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Guindy, Chennai-600 032, India





Crocetin (5-20 mg/ml), quercetin (10-40 mg/ml), and cisplatin (60-180m mg/ml) used as a positive control drug, were tested against human rhabdomyosarcoma (RD) cells and African green monkey kidney (Vero) cells. The cell viability, morphological changes, and lactate dehydrogenase activity were assessed. RD cell growth was found to be inhibited dose dependently by the three tested compounds. Morphological observation by phase contrast microscopy revealed that both crocetin and quercetin caused intense damage only on the malignant (RD) cells, whereas mild toxic effect was seen with cisplatin also on normal.

11 January 2000


Saffron Chemoprevention in Biology and Medicine: A Review


Satish C. Nair, Kurumboor, S.K., and Hasegawa, J.H.

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Eppley Institute for Cancer Research and Allied Diseases, Omaha, and Amala Cancer Research Center, India, University of Minnesota Medical School



A growing body of evidence indicate that cartenoids possess anticarcinogenic, anti-mutagenic and immunomodulating effects. Saffron obtained from the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus l., is an important spice, rich in carotenoids, consumed commonly in different parts of the world. Our laboratory first reported the anticancer activity of saffron extract (dimethyl-crocetin) against a wide spectrum of murine tumors and human leulemia cell lines. The present report reviews the role of saffron in serving as a chemo preventive agent in modifying cancer risk. Dose-dependent cytotoxic effect to carcinoma, sarcoma and leukemia cells in vitro were noted. Saffron delayed ascites tumor growth and increased the life span of the treated mice compared to untreated controls by 45-120%. In addition, it delayed the onset of papilloma growth, decreased incidence of squamous cell carcinoma and soft tissue sarcoma in treated mice. Understanding the mechanisms of action of saffron have been solitarily based on their carotenoid-like action. Our results indicated significant inhibition in the synthesis of nucleic acids but not protein synthesis. It appears now that saffron (dimethyl-crocetin) disrupts DNA-protein interactions e.g. topoisomerases II, important for cellular DNA synthesis.

Cancer Biotherapy

Volume 10, Number 4, 1995

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Crocin and Crocetin Derivatives Inhibit Skin Tumor Promotion in Mice


T. Konoshima, M. Takasaki, Kyoto Pharmaceuical University, Japan

H. Tokuda, Department of Biochemistry, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Japan

S. Morimoto, H. Tanaka, E. Kwata, L.J. Xuan, H. Saito, Y. Shoyama, Faculty of pharmaceutical Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan

H. Saito, M. Sugiura, Department of Chemical Pharmacology, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Science, University of Tokyo, Japan.

J. Molnar, Department of Microbiology, Albert Szent-Gorgyi medical University, Dom ter, Hungary.



The addition of 100 mg/mL of a 50% EtOH extract of Crocus sativus (ECS) exhibited significant inhibitory effects on EBV-EA activation and preserved the high viability of Raji cells. The attenuating effect of ECS was dose-dependent. The oral administration of ECS demonstrated an inhibitory effect on two-stage carcinogenesis of mouse skin papilloma's, using DMBA as an initiator and TPA as a promoter. Crocetin gentiobiose glucose ester and crocetin di-glucose ester were less potent than crocin in inhibiting the EBVEA induction effect. When crocin was applied before each TPA treatment, it delayed the formation of papilloma's; only about 10% of mice before papilloma's at 9 weeks of promotion and after 13 weeks of procose alone.


Phytother, Res 12, 400-404 (1998)


Inhibitory effect of crocetin on intracellular nucleic acid and protein synthesis in malignant cells


Fikrat I. Abdullaev

Department of biological Science, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ (USA) and laboratory of Genome Biochemistry, Institute of Botany, Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences, Baku (Azerbaijan)



The possibility that dietary intake of diverse naturally occurring compounds may influence the occurrence of cancer is receiving considerable scientific attention. Previously, it was reported that an extract (Crocus sativus), which contains carotenoids, had an antitumor effect and inhibited colony formation and nucleic acid synthesis by malignant human cells. Epidemiological and experimental research has indicated that carotenoids might act as antitumor agents. We have studied crocetin, a carotenoid isolated from saffron, which has been shown to have biological activity. In our experiments we utilized three malignant human cell lines: Hela (cervical epithelioid carcinoma), A549 (lung adenocarcinoma) and VA13 (SV-40 transformed fetal lung fibroblast) cells. The effect of crocetin on colony formation and cellular DNA, RNA and protein synthesis in three cells has been examined. Incubation of these cells with crocetin for 3 h caused a dose-dependent inhibition of nucleic acid and protein synthesis. Crocetin also had a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on DNA and RNA synthesis in isolated nuclei and suppressed the activity of purified RNA polymerase II.

12 April 1993

Toxicology Letters, 70 (1994) 243-251


Inhibitory Effects of Nigella sativa and Saffron (Crocus sativus) on chemical Carcinogenesis in Mice

M.J. Saomi, Satish C. Nair, and K.R. Panikar



Topical application of Nigella sativa and Crocus sativus extracts (common food spices) inhibited two-stage initiation/ promotion (dimethylbenz (a)anthracene (DMBA)/ croton oil) skn carcinogenesis in mice. A dose of 100 mg/Kg body wt of these extracts delayed the onset of papilloma formation and reduced the mean number of papilloma's per mouse, respectively.

The possibility that these extracts could inhibit the action of 20- methylcholanthrene (MCA)- induced soft tissue saromas was evaluated by studying the effect of these extracts on MCA-induced soft tissue sarcomas in albino mice. Intraperitoneal administration of Nigella sativa (100 mg/kg body wt) and oral administration of Crocus sativus (100 mg/Kg body wt) 30 days after subcutaneous administration of MCA (745 nmol x 2 days) restricted tumor incidence to 33.3 % and 10%, respectively, compared with 100% in MCA-treated controls.

Nutr Cancer 16, 67-72, 1991.