Saffron contains several compounds such as safranal, picrocrocin and crocin, the latter is the main antioxidant in saffron working as a dye. Crocin is a carotenoid chemical compound that is present in the flowers crocus and gardenia. Crocin is the chemical mainly responsible for the color of saffron. Chemically, the dieter derived from the disaccharide gentiobiose and dicarboxylic acid crocetin is crocin.
It is one of main carotenoids and pharmacologically active components of saffron. Crocin is also responsible for the color of saffron. Cronic posseses different therapeutic properties, including effects on nervous system disorders (antidementia agent, antidepressant, anxiolytic, and aphrodisiac) as well as antioxidant, cardioprotective, and antitumor properties
Saffron and mainly crocin are effective antidepressant and anti-anxiety agents, as well as sexual motivator, memory enhancer and sedative which are used for the treatment of different central nervous system disorders.
Crocin, safranal, and crocetin are the components of the plant that play a role in the antidepressant effect based on the available evidence. Current evidence demonstrating that saffron administration, at a dosage of 28 mg/day for 4 weeks, had beneficial effects on mood, anxiety, and stress management in individuals self-reporting low mood, yet sleep quality did not improve.
Crocetin and crocin are yellow pigments that are normally obtained from saffron (Crocus sativus). Saffron powder as well as extract are used as both colorant and spice. However, the use of saffron powder and extract as food colorant is limited due to its high cost and is restricted only in the United States. The European Union has not approved saffron for its use as colorant but allows its use as spice.
In Japan and China, crocin extracted from fruit of gardenia yellow (Gardenia jasminoides and Gardenia augusta) has been approved for use in foods. On the other hand, the use of crocin obtained from the fruit has not been permitted in the United States and European Union.