Saffron‘s Active Constituents and Safety
Saffron – The Breakdown
Saffron, the dried red stigma from the Crocus Sativa flower, offers a myriad of potential health benefits, including support for the immune system. (1) Saffron has many important components that contribute to these healthful effects, including over 150 volatile compounds, carotenoids, and vitamins. (1)
Bioactive Constituents - The main bioactive compounds of saffron are crocin, crocetin, and safran, and these constituents have been shown to protect the immune system, and have anti-inflammatory properties. (1) Numerous studies have shown that these compounds have antioxidant effects and can assist the immune system in various disorders associated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune system imbalance. (2)
Carotenoids - Carotenoids are the yellow, orange and red pigments that give certain foods their colours, as is present in saffron. They have proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunological properties, and several studies have confirmed carotenoids as useful in disease management. (2) In fact, most of the pharmacological benefits of saffron are associated with the presence of carotenoids. (2)
Other Elements - Saffron is rich in other vital macro and micro elements including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese. (3) It also contains important vitamins such as vitamin A, folic acid (B9), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and vitamin C. (3)
Safety profile of Saffron
The safety profile of saffron is favourable, with only minimal, well-tolerated side-effects being recorded in some studies. (1) These include dry mouth, dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, daytime drowsiness, constipation and sweating. (1) In most study participants, even at 100mg of saffron per day there were no recorded side effects. In general, up to 1.5 grams per day in adults is considered safe to take, and is more than was needed for therapeutic effect. (1)
1. Zeinali M, Zirak MR, Rezaee SA, Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H. Immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory properties of Crocus sativus (Saffron) and its main active constituents: A review. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences. 2019;22(4):334-44.
2. Boskabady MH, Farkhondeh T. Antiinflammatory, Antioxidant, and Immunomodulatory Effects of Crocus sativus L. and its Main Constituents. Phytotherapy research : PTR. 2016;30(7):1072-94.
3. Qadir S, Bashir S, John R. Chapter 15 - Saffron—Immunity System. In: Sarwat M, Sumaiya S, editors. Saffron: Academic Press; 2020. p. 177-92.
Written By Brittany Darling
NUTRITIONIST (BHSC), WESTERN HERBAL MEDICINE (ADV DIP),
CERT. PAEDIATRIC NUTRITION