Introduction to Medicinal plant- Saffron
Authors: Prof.P.T.Yeole*, Sapana Wagh, Krutika Dhondge
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(Assistant Professor, K. K.Wagh College of Agricultural Biotechnology, Nashik.)

Botnical name: Crocus sativas L.

Family: Liliaceas

A) Introduction:

The scientific name for saffron is Crocus sativus L. and belongs to the family of Iridaceas, the line of liliaceas. Among the 85 species belonging to the Crocus genus, saffron is the most fascinating and intriguing species. The word "saffron" is derived from the Arabic word za'faran, which translates to "yellow." Commercial saffron is made from the dried stigmas of the saffron flower, a triploid sterile plant and has a unique and distinctively pungent, honey-like flavour and aroma.

B) Medicinal And Pharmaceptical Properties:

1) Effect on Learning Behavior and Long-term Potentiation:

The saffron extract and two of its main ingredients crocin and crocetin, improved memory and learning skills in ethanol-induced learning behavior impairments in mice and rats. Oral administration of saffron may be useful as treatment for neurodegenerative disorders and related memory impairment. (Abe and Saito, 2000; Abe., 1994; Sigura et al., 1995).

2) Effects on Ocular Blood Flow and Retinal Function:

Crocin analogs isolated from saffron significantly increased the blood flow in the retina and choroid as well as facilitated retinal function recovery and it could be used to treat ischemic retinopathy and/or age-related macular degeneration (Xuan et al., 1999).

3) Effect on Coronary Artery Disease :

Fifty milligrams of saffron dissolved in 100ml of milk was administered twice a day to human subjects and the significant decrease in lipoprotein oxidation susceptibility.

4) Effect on Blood Pressure :

Aqueous and ethanol extracts of saffron reduced the blood pressure in a dose dependent manner. EFS of the isolated rat vas deferens also were decreased by these saffron extracts (Fatehi, 2003).

5) Antinociceptive and Anti-inflammatory Effects:

Saffron stigma and petal extracts exhibited antinociceptive effects in chemical pain test as well as acute and/or chronic anti-inflammatory activity and these effects might be due to their content of flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanins, alkaloids, and saponins (Hosseinzadeh and Yiounesi, 2002).

6) Antidepression Effect:

In clinical trial have demonstrated that saffron may be of therapeutic benefit in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (Akhondzadeh, 2004; Noorbala, 2005).

7) Anticonsvulsant Effect:

In Iranian traditional medicine, the saffron had been used as an anticonvulsant remedy. In experiments with mice using maximal electroshock seizure (MES) and pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) tests have demonstrated that the aqueous and ethanolic extracts of saffron possess anticonvulsant activity. (Hosseinzadeh and Khosrava, 2002).

8) Antiparkinsonian Effect :

Crocetin, which is an important ingredient of saffron may be helpful in preventing Perkinsonism (Ahmad, 2005)

9) Antiatherosclerosis Effect:

Recently it was demonstrated that suppression of LDL oxidation by crocetin contributes to the attenuation of atherosclerosis.

10) Mutagenic or Antimutagenic Effects:

It was reported that crocin and dimethyl-crocetin isolated from saffron were non-mutagenic (Salomi, 1991). Using the Ames/Salmonella test system (strains TA97; TA98; TA100; TA102, and TA1538), we demonstrated that the saffron extract itself in concentration up to 1500 mg/plate was non-toxic, non-mutagenic, and nonantimutagenic (Abdullaev, 2002, 2003). A test compound was considered mutagenic if the number of the His+ revertant colonies was increased at least twice over the value of the corresponding control (MI > 2), over at least three doses levels, and a reproducible dose-response curve

About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as Asssistant professor at K. K. Wagh college of Agril. Biotech., Sarswatinagar, Nashik