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Generic Name: Crocus sativus

Other Name: Red Gold

Brand names: Zaran Safron, Golden Safron

Dosage forms: Oral, topical

Saffron: Uses, Side effects. Zaran Safron, Golden Safron, Red Gold
Courtesy: Unsplash

What is Saffron?

Saffron is native to India, Greece, and Iran.1The term “Red Gold” is attributed to Saffron due to the rigorous processes involved in its harvesting. There are various types of the plant that are differentiated based on the organoleptic properties they impart. Organoleptic properties are characteristics that provide individual perceptions of taste, sight, aroma, and touch.

The known bioactive constituents of Saffron are crocetin and its ester derivatives- safranal and crocin.1 These are phytochemicals that are said to have antioxidant properties. Stigma is the most sought out part of the plant as it is packed with vitamins, minerals, oil-soluble pigments, namely zeaxanthin, anthocyanin, and alpha-beta carotene.

The health benefits of Saffron are being tested for several major illnesses in humans.2 Such as:

– Coronary artery disease 2

– Depression 1

– Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s

– Cancer

– Reproductive abnormalities

– Dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps)

It has also been seen to affect the following mechanisms and pathologies: 1

– Memory and learning

– Cerebral ischemia

– CNS tumors

– Macular degeneration

– Multiple sclerosis

-Neuropathy secondary to diabetes mellitus


How to use Saffron?

Saffron can be incorporated into food as a spice or is used as a natural food coloring agent. Add the strands in a cup of boiling water or milk. Cold-pressed saffron oil can be used as a topical to treat dry skin or can be cooked with food at high temperatures.

Herbal supplements with powdered strands compacted in tablets are utilized in the treatment of several illnesses.

Precisely calculated dosages are available for oral use. These are available as tablets that are taken with water. It is advised to consult a trained professional to know if your medical history allows the use of Saffron.


What are the side effects of Saffron?

Although Saffron is considered a novel herb with an array of benefits, clinical evidence to support its use as a medicine is scarce. Some side effects with the use of Saffron have surfaced after extensive research.

The side effects attributed to the use of Saffron are:

– GI upset

– Changes in appetite

– Changes in mood

– Headache

The following adverse effects of Saffron have also been documented:

– Teratogenic potential 1

– Miscarriage due to contraction of the uterus 2

– Hematuria (blood in urine)

– Thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, erythropenia

– Cutaneous pruritis


Who should not use Saffron?

Saffron can be toxic at a dosage of 5 grams and fatal at dosages 10-20 grams. Individuals who should avoid the use of Saffron are:

– Pregnant women

– Immunocompromised

– Those with bleeding disorders

– People with bipolar disorder

– People with persistently low blood pressure

– Those who have to undergo surgery



  1. Siddiqui MJ, Saleh MSM, Basharuddin SNBB, et al. Saffron (Crocus sativus): As an AntidepressantJ Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2018;10(4):173-180. doi:10.4103/JPBS.JPBS_83_18
  2. Singletary, Keith Ph.D. Saffron, Nutrition Today: 11/12 2020 – Volume 55 – Issue 6 – p 294-303 doi: 10.1097/NT.0000000000000449

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