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Neuropharmacological Aspects of Crocus sativus L.: A Review of Preclinical Studies and Ongoing Clinical Research.

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Regulatory Research Centre, CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, Palampur-176061, Himachal Pradesh, India.


Crocus sativus L. (Iridaceae) is an important member of the genus Crocus having high medicinal value. Its dried stigmas, known as "saffron" are being widely used form past many centuries as a food additive, coloring agent, flavoring agent and a potential source of traditional medicine. The stigmas along with other botanical parts of Crocus sativus are being extensively used in ethnomedical treatment of varied central nervous system diseases. In line with its ethnomedical importance, several preclinical studies have been carried out to validate its traditional uses, identify active principle(s), understand pharmacological basis of therapeutic action and explore novel medicinal uses. The bioactive components of Crocus sativus have been found to modulate several synaptic processes via direct/indirect interplay with neurotransmitter receptor functions, interaction with neuronal death/survival pathways and alteration in neuronal proteins expression. Many clinical studies proving beneficial effect of Crocus sativus in depressive disorders, Alzheimer's disease and some other neurological abnormalities have also been carried out. Based on the vast literature reports available, an attempt has been made to comprehend the fragmented information on neuropharmacological aspects, chemistry and safety of Crocus sativus. Although the plant has been well explored, but still a large scope of future preclinical and clinical research exist to explore its potential in neurological diseases, that has been discussed in depth in the present review.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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