Saffron - Side Effects, Recommended and Precautions of Use
Available as crude powder.
Saffron is derived from the dried stigmas and tops of styles of Crocus sativus, which is indigenous to southern Europe and Asia Minor.
Saffron contains several compounds, including carotenoids such as crocines, crocetins, picrocrocin, and dimethyl-crocetin. Hydrolysis of the agent results in the production of safranal and glucose. An essential oil may also be produced.
The components of saffron have been shown to be cytotoxic in vitro to human carcinoma, sarcoma, and leukemia cells . This effect is believed to be dose-dependent and attributed to the carotenoid components, specifically dimethyl-crocetin. The crocetin component of saffron appears to increase the diffusion of oxygen in plasma, possibly by as much as 80% . This action may prevent atherosclerosis secondary to vascular wall hypoxia and a subsequent decrease in RBC diffusion of oxygen. Antioxidant properties were later described in humans in a study of 20 patients . Fifty-milligram doses of saffron dissolved in milk and given twice daily significantly reduced mean lipoprotein oxidation susceptibility for 10 healthy patients and 10 patients with existing coronary disease as compared with their own baseline data. The ultimate clinical significance of this effect is unknown.
Saffron also is reported to have immunomodulating effects, but supporting data are lacking.
Saffron has been used as a diaphoretic, an expectorant, and a sedative. In some parts of Asia, it has been made into a paste and used to treat dry skin. It is also thought to have some aphrodisiac effects. Clinical trials supporting these claims do not exist. Its Use is primarily as a coloring and flavoring agent.
No consensus exists. Saffron may be ingested by mixing the powder with food or brewing it as a tea.
None reported with culinary doses (under 1.5 g). The fOllowing reactions have been documented with doses above 5 g:
GU: menorrhagia (less frequent).
Skin: facial flushing.
Other: spontaneous abortion (rare).
Contraindications and Precautions
Saffron is contraindicated in pregnant women because of the risk of spontaneous abortion. Avoid using this compound in breast-teeding patients; effects are unknown.
Points of Interest
Although saffron has been used safely as a food additive for many years, its use as a medicinal agent remains to be determined. Until adequate human trials can be conducted, the use of saffron to prevent or treat cancer or CV conditions cannot be recommended.
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