Crocus sativus saffron herb, health benefit, aphrodisiac effects of the spice
March 27 2014

Crocus sativus is a spice derived from the flower of the saffron. The flower has three stigmas, which are the distal ends of the plant's carpels. Together with its style, the stalk connecting the stigmas to the rest of the plant, these components are often dried and used in cooking as a seasoning and coloring agent. Crocus sativusis, which is a very expensive spice, is native to Southwest Asia. Animal studies indicate that crocus sativus may have aphrodisiac properties.
   Crocus sativus has several substances, including safranal and crocin.

As of March 2014, we have not seen human research with crocus sativus herb.

Crocus sativus saffron herb and sexual effects
The effect of saffron, Crocus sativus stigma, extract and its constituents, safranal and crocin on sexual behaviors in normal male rats.
Phytomedicine. 2007 October. Hosseinzadeh H, Ziaee T, Sadeghi A. Pharmacology and Toxicology Department, Pharmaceutical Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box 1365-91775, Mashhad, IR Iran.
In this study, the aphrodisiac activities of Crocus sativus stigma aqueous extract and its constituents, safranal and crocin, were evaluated in male rats. The aqueous extract crocin, safranal, sildenafil as a positive control and saline were administered intraperitoneally to male rats. Mounting frequency (MF), intromission frequency (IF), erection frequency (EF), mount latency (ML), intromission latency (IL) and ejaculation latency (EL) were the factors evaluated during the sexual behavior study. Crocin, at all doses, and the extract, especially at doses 160 and 320mg/kg body wt., increased MF, IF and EF behaviors and reduced EL, IL and ML parameters. Safranal did not show aphrodisiac effects. The present study reveals an aphrodisiac activity of Crocus sativus aqueous extract and its constituent crocin.

Crocus sativus and anxiety, sleep effects
Anxiolytic and hypnotic effect of Crocus sativus aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, in mice.
Phytother Res. 2009 Jan. Hosseinzadeh H, Noraei NB. Department of Pharmacodynamy and Toxicology, School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, P.O. Box: 1365-91775, Mashhad, I.R. Iran.
Saffron stigma Crocus sativus L. is used for insomnia and anxiety in traditional medicine. In this study, the anxiolytic and hypnotic effects of saffron aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, were studied in mice. Crocin showed no anxiolytic, hypnotic or myorelaxation effects. Safranal, in higher doses, showed anxiolytic effects. Safranal increased the total sleep time dose dependently. This constituent at lower doses decreased some locomotion activity parameters. Safranal demonstrated no effects on motor coordination. The results showed that saffron aqueous extract and safranal have anxiolytic and hypnotic effects.

Cancer
Pharm Biol. 2013 . Role of saffron and its constituents on cancer chemoprevention.Z Natural substances from vegetables, herbs and spices could be beneficial in the prevention or treatment of a variety of cancers. Crocus sativus (Iridaceae), which has been used as a folk medicine for treating diseases for ages, showed obvious cancer chemoprevention potential. This article focuses on the effects of Crocus sativus and its main ingredients, such as crocin, on cancer therapeutics. We reviewed research data from saffron, a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, and its constituents using the major databases, namely, Web of Science, SciFinder and PubMed. Saffron possesses free radical-scavenging properties and antitumor activities. Significant cancer chemopreventive effects have been shown in both in vitro and in vivo models. Based on current data, saffron and its ingredients could be considered as a promising candidate for clinical anticancer trials.

Depression
Daru. 2014 Jan 8. Antidepressant effects of crocin and its effects on transcript and protein levels of CREB, BDNF, and VGF in rat hippocampus.

Heart health
The effect of saffron consumption on biochemical and histopathological heart indices of rats with myocardial infarction.
Cardiovasc Toxicology. 2010 Mar; Joukar S, Najafipour H, Khaksari M, Sepehri G, Shahrokhi N, Dabiri S, Gholamhoseinian A, Hasanzadeh S. Physiology Research Center and Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Iran.
This study was designed to assess the effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) on rats' heart with isoproterenol-induced myocardial injury. Animals were divided randomly into four groups: vehicle-control group (CTL); ISO group, administrated with Isoproterenol; saffron group; and finally combined Saffron + ISO group. The level of glutathione peroxidase activity in Saffron + ISO animals did not have significant decline compared to saffron alone. These results suggest the protective role of saffron on ischemic hearts by biochemical and histopathological findings.

Crocus sativus and PMS
Crocus sativus (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial.
BJOG. 2008 March. Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, Ghoreishi A, Rahmanpour H, Zarrinara AR, Akhondzadeh S.
Infertility Center of Dr Shariati Hospital, Vali Asr Reproductive Health Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
The aim of this double-blind and placebo-controlled trial was to investigate whether stigma of Crocus sativus could relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Women aged 20-45 years with regular menstrual cycles and experience of PMS symptoms for at least 6 months were eligible for the study. Women were randomly assigned to receive capsule Crocus sativus stigma 30 mg/day (15 mg twice a day; morning and evening) (group A) or capsule placebo (twice a day) for a two menstrual cycles (cycles 3 and 4). In this trial, Crocus sativus was found to be effective in relieving symptoms of PMS.

Crocus sativus and cancer
Crocin from Crocus sativus possesses significant anti-proliferation effects on human colorectal cancer cells.
Exp Oncol. 2007 Sep. Aung HH, Wang CZ, Ni M, Fishbein A, Mehendale SR, Xie JT, Shoyama CY, Yuan CS. Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research, The Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
To investigate the anti-proliferative effects of Crocus sativus extract and its major constituent, crocin, on three colorectal cancer cell lines (HCT-116, SW-480, and HT-29). Data from this study demonstrated that the extract and its major constituent, crocin, significantly inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells while not affecting normal cells. Crocus sativus extract should be investigated further as a viable option in the treatment of colorectal cancer.