Saffron is a spice of Crocus sativus (Saffron crocus) which belongs to the family of iridaceae1 and studies has advocates its role in diseases cure. Its health management properties have been discussed in traditional prescriptions including Chinese, Ayurveda and Unani medicines. Different plant parts like peels, fruits, seeds and rind of Crocus sativus contain various biochemically active ingredients such as crocin, crocetin, and safranal in different proportion. These constituents have demonstrated the health promoting effect through the modulation of various biological and physiological processes Earlier studies reported that saffron is safe at various doses and did not show any severe side effects.
Chief ingredients of saffron
Saffron stigma is mixture of various components and such constituents have therapeutics importance in the health management through the modulation of various biological pathways. It contain numerous volatile compounds and ingredients including crocin, picrocrocin and safranal and these compounds are accountable for color, taste and odor of saffron respectively. Safranal is the major coloring constituent of saffron, so saffron is used as a flavoring and coloring agent. In addition to these compounds, saffron also contains little amounts of other pigments like anthocyanin, α-carotene, β- carotene, and zegxantin.
Possible mechanism of action of saffron and its ingredient in diseases prevention
The exact mechanism by which saffron and its constituents demonstrate the therapeutic role in diseases prevention is yet to be fully elucidated. Laboratory based research has revealed that saffron constituents modulate the activity of various enzymes involved in free radical scavenging. Moreover, these components reduce the lipid peroxidation and enhance the antioxidant status. Stigma ethanolic fraction of saffron showed the highest antioxidant activity that might be recognized due to the presence of phenolics and flavonoids.
It is very well known that medicinal plants such as curcumin, ginger, carica papaya and black seed have therapeutic role in the management of numerous diseases including tumour. Saffron and its active constituents perform an important role in the inhibition of tumour development and progression Table 2.
These days the popularity of alternative medicines based treatment is gaining much interest in the health practice. Saffron has shown its role in disease prevention and treatment and its importance in disease cure have been documented. Moreover, it is believed to be a safe and its adverse effect was not noticed at various doses.
The role of saffron including crocin and crocetin in the management of numerous diseases has proven via modulation of various physiological and biochemical pathways. Saffron has also been reported to exhibit an anti-tumour effect through inactivation or activation of different molecular cascades.