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Molecules 2018, 23(1), 30;

Saffron: An Old Medicinal Plant and a Potential Novel Functional Food

Cátedra de Química Agrícola, E.T.S.I. Agrónomos y de Montes, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Campus Universitario, 02071 Albacete, Spain
Department of Food Science, Universidad de Murcia, Regional Campus of International Excellence, Campus International de Excelencia Regional “Campus Mare Nostrum”, CIBERobn, ISCIII, 30100 Murcia, Spain
Heart Failure Unit, Department of Cardiology, Hospital Ramon y Cajal, 28034 Madrid, Spain
Laboratory of Materials, Environment and Electrochemistry, Faculty of Science, Ibn Tofaïl University, P.O. Box 242, 14000 Kénitra, Morocco
Department of Medical Sciences, School of Medicine and Regional Centre for Biomedical Research (CRIB), University of Castilla-La Mancha, 02008 Albacete, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 23 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Natural Products Chemistry)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1480 KB, uploaded 23 December 2017]   |  


The spice saffron is made from the dried stigmas of the plant Crocus sativus L. The main use of saffron is in cooking, due to its ability to impart colour, flavour and aroma to foods and beverages. However, from time immemorial it has also been considered a medicinal plant because it possesses therapeutic properties, as illustrated in paintings found on the island of Santorini, dated 1627 BC. It is included in Catalogues of Medicinal Plants and in the European Pharmacopoeias, being part of a great number of compounded formulas from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The medicinal and pharmaceutical uses of this plant largely disappeared with the advent of synthetic chemistry-produced drugs. However, in recent years there has been growing interest in demonstrating saffron’s already known bioactivity, which is attributed to the main components—crocetin and its glycosidic esters, called crocins, and safranal—and to the synergy between the compounds present in the spice. The objective of this work was to provide an updated and critical review of the research on the therapeutic properties of saffron, including activity on the nervous and cardiovascular systems, in the liver, its antidepressant, anxiolytic and antineoplastic properties, as well as its potential use as a functional food or nutraceutical. View Full-Text
Keywords: saffron; crocin; crocetin esters; safranal; picrocrocin; nutraceutical; therapeutic properties; functional food saffron; crocin; crocetin esters; safranal; picrocrocin; nutraceutical; therapeutic properties; functional food

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José Bagur, M.; Alonso Salinas, G.L.; Jiménez-Monreal, A.M.; Chaouqi, S.; Llorens, S.; Martínez-Tomé, M.; Alonso, G.L. Saffron: An Old Medicinal Plant and a Potential Novel Functional Food. Molecules 2018, 23, 30.

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