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Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Sep;50(8):761-86. doi: 10.1080/10408390902773003.

New applications and mechanisms of action of saffron and its important ingredients.

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Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.


Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has been an important subject of interest for research teams in the past two decades because of its various biological properties. Chemical analysis has shown the presence of more than 150 components in saffron stigmas. Here, we review the medicinal and industrial applications of saffron. Then, the new findings from different research groups about its medicinal properties and various cellular and molecular mechanisms of action will be discussed. The methods used for this study included searching Web of Science and Medline for saffron and its constituent's applications. The results show that in recent years saffron's application in a variety of disorders involving neuronal, cardiovascular and other systems, as well as cancer have been investigated. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of its action are also under study. The more powerful components of saffron are carotenoids and monoterpene aldehydes. Structure-function relationship studies show that some properties are related to deglycosylated derivatives, while others belong to more glycosylated ones. Our study concludes that saffron has a wide range of usefulness in medicine, cosmetics, and coloring industries, so it can be used for new drug designs. However, more research about its mechanism of action is needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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