Saffron (Crocus sativus), derived from the Arabic word yellow, represents the high concentration of carotenoid pigments in the spots of saffron flowers .
It is a perennial spicy herb, also known as Red Gold in countries, where it is produced, such as India and Greece. It comes from the dried spots of the Crocus sativus flower, which explains why it is the most expensive spice, as it costs about $ 8 per gram. It takes about 175 flowers for one gram of Crocus. The name Crocus comes from Greek mythology . Crocus was a friend of the god Hermes. One day, while the two friends were throwing a record, Hermes hit Krokos on the head and fatally injured him. As Crocus died, three drops of blood from his head fell on the center of a flower, making the three spots on the flower that bore his name.
The yellowish color of saffron is due to its carotenoid compounds such as crocin and crocetin . Crocus has been used in folk medicine and Ayurveda as a sedative, expectorant, and as an adaptive herb to stress. In the 16th-19th centuries, saffron was used in various opioid preparations to relieve pain. Crocus is known for its antioxidant , anti-inflammatory , digestive  and cardioprotective properties .
Crocus contains more than 150 volatile compounds, with three of them being responsible for its pharmacological effects: crocin, crocetin, saffron and picrocrocin . Crocin and crocetin are responsible for the golden yellow hue of saffron, picrocrocin is responsible for the bitter taste and saffron is responsible for the characteristic aroma of saffron . Carotenoids have been shown to interact with GABA receptors and positively regulate serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels [6-8].
Saffron consumption can be an aid in weight loss
Crocus can also be extremely helpful in weight management, as it can reduce the tendency for snacks and therefore help in weight loss. After eight weeks, women who consumed saffron lost significantly more weight than women who did not take saffron .
Saffron consumption can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
Saffron supplementation through a clinical trial showed that consuming Crocus twice a day for twelve weeks led to a reduction in anxiety symptoms and an improvement in depression [9,10]. Greater improvements in separation anxiety, social phobia, and depression were reported in an eight-week study in adolescents aged 12-16 years who received saffron crocus twice daily .
Administration of saffron improves cognitive function
Similarly, the administration of saffron at sixteen weeks has led to improved cognitive function in people with Alzheimer's, as saffron may inhibit the accumulation and deposition of amyloid β in the brain and may therefore be useful in the management of Alzheimer's disease. [18,19].
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8. Talaei A, et al. Crocin, the main active saffron constituent, as an adjunctive treatment in major depressive disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot clinical trial. J Affect Disord. 2015 Mar 15; 174:51-6.
10. Mazidi M, et al. A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in the treatment of anxiety and depression. J Complement Integr Med. 2016 Jun 1;13(2):195-9.
11. Lopresti AL, et al. Affron®, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Affect Disord. 2018 May; 232:349-57.
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19. Akhondzadeh S, Sabet MS, Harirchian MH, et al. Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther 2010;35(5):581-588.
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