The plant is a native of south Europe and is cultivated in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Persia, India and China. Cultivation in India is mostly confined to the table-land of Pampur (5,300 ft. above sea level) in Kashmir and Kishtwar in Jammu.
The saffron plant is a small bulbous perennial, cultivated for its large, scented, blue or lavender flowers. The flowers have a trifid, orange-coloured stigma which along with the style-tops yield the saffron of commerce.
The glycosides, crocin and picrocrocin together with lycopene, ß-carotene, g-carotene, zeaxanthin and a crystalline hydrocarbon1. The essential oil of saffron deposits, on standing, stearoptene, probably a tertiary alcohol2.
The stigma showed remarkable inhibitory effects on blood coagulation; it prolonged both PT and PTT and inhibited platelet aggregation induced by ADP and collagen. It accelerated in vitro fibrinolysis activity of urokinase and plasmin. A platelet aggregation inhibitor containing adenosine has been isolated from the stigma. The IC50 values of adenosine against platelet aggregation induced by ADP and collagen are 7.5 and 0.82 µg/ml, respectively3.
In mice, an extract of C.sativus stigmas partially prevented the decrease in body weight, hemoglobin levels and leucocyte counts caused by 2mg/kg of cisplatin i.p. for 5 days. Treatment with C.sativus extract also significantly prolonged the life span of cisplatin-treated mice almost three fold4.
Saffron is credited with various medicinal properties. It is used as a nerve sedative and emmenagogue. It is used in fevers, melancholia and enlargement of the liver. It also has stimulant and stomachic properties and is considered to be a remedy for catarrhal affections of children.
- Mayer & Cook, 71; Wallis, loc.cit.
- Mayer & Cook, 71; Wallis. loc. cit; U.S.D., loc. cit., Winton & Winton, IV, 278.
- Nishio et al, Shoyakugaku Zasshi, 1987, 41, 271; Chem Abstr, 1993, 119, 131174.
- Nair, S.C. et. al., J. Ethnopharmacol., 1991, v.,31, 75-83.
- Nair, S.C. et. al., Int. J. Pharmacog., 1994, v., 32(2), 105-114.
- Chopra & Badhwar, Indian J. agri. Sci.,1940, 10, 40.