Crocus sativus L. (Iridaceae)
Crocus offi cinalis Martyn
Açcfrão, azaferan, azafran, crocus, crocus hispanicus, crocus
orientalis, dye saffron, Echter Safran, fan-hung-hua, Gewürzsafran, hay
saffron, kamkana, kesar, keshara, koema-koema, kumkum, Safran, saffraon, saffron,
saffron crocus, sáfrány, sapran, Spanish saffron, true saffron,
szafran, szafrana, z’afaran, za afran l-hor, zaafaran, zafaran, zafarfon,
zafferano, zang hong hua, zafrane hor
A perennial, low growing (8–30 cm high), bulbous herb with an underground
globular corm, producing six to nine sessile leaves, surrounded in its lower
part by four or fi ve broad membranous scales. Flowers borne on the terminal
region of a scape, each flower consisting of a pale reddishpurple perianth showing
a cylindrical tube about 10 cm long and six oblong oval segments, an androecium
of three stamens and a gynoecium of three syncarpous carpels. Ovary inferior,
three-locular. Style slender, elongated and pale yellow in the perianth tube,
divided in its upper part into three drooping, deep-red stigmas
Plant material used
Colorimetric and spectrophotometric assays are used. Qualitative and quantitative
high-performance liquid chromatography methods are available for picrocrocin,
safranal and crocins
Major chemical constituents
The major constituents include essential oils (0.4–1.3%) with α-
and ß-pinene, 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol), a monoterpene glucoside, picrocrocin
(4%), safranal, which can be obtained by hydrolysis of picrocrocin, and a series
of carotenoid glucosides known as crocins (2%), dimethylcrocetin and their aglycone
Uses supported by clinical data
None. Although Stigma Croci showed antioxidant effects in human studies, data
from controlled clinical trials are lacking.
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and well established
As a tonic and antiarteriosclerotic, and as a sedative and emmenagogue
Uses described in traditional medicine
As an emmenagogue and for treatment of ammenorrhoea, abdominal pain, coughs,
depression, digestive ailments, fever and pain due to wounds. Also as an aphrodisiac,
appetite stimulant, diaphoretic, contraceptive, antispasmodic and nerve sedative
Proven pharmacological activity
Antiarteriosclerotic, Anticoagulant, Cell proliferation inhibition, Sedatives,
Chemical carcinogenesis inhibition, Anti-Ocular hypertension, Anticancer, Nootropic
The lethal dose of Stigma Croci is reported to be 20.0 g; however, smaller doses
may cause vomiting, uterine bleeding, bloody diarrhoea, haematuria, bleeding
from the nose, lips and eyelids, vertigo, numbness and yellowing of the skin
and mucous membranes. Oral administration of 5.0 g resulted in localized skin
haemorrhages, marked thrombocytopenia, and abnormalities of blood clotting in
Stigma Croci may induce uterine contractions and is therefore contraindicated
during pregnancy. Owing to a lack of safety data, use of the stigmas in children
and nursing mothers should be restricted to normal food use. Stigma Croci is
contraindicated in bleeding disorders.
At doses of 5.0 g or more, Stigma Croci may cause serious adverse reactions
(see Adverse reactions). Overdose of Stigma Croci (12.0–20.0 g/day) may
Stigma Croci inhibits platelet aggregation and should therefore be used with
caution in patients taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs.
Carcinogenesis, mutagenesis, impairment of fertility
Ethyl acetate, methanol and aqueous extracts of Stigma Croci (concentrations
not specified) were not mutagenic in the Salmonella/microsome assay using S.
typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100 with or without metabolic activation. Crocin
and dimethylcrocetin,1.0 mg/plate, 2.0 mg/plate and 4.0 mg/plate, were not mutagenic
in the Salmonella/ microsome assay using S. typhimurium strain TA 1535. A chloroform-
methanol extract (2:1) of the stigmas, 100.0 mg/plate, was not mutagenic in
pig kidney cells or in trophoblastic placenta cells.
Pregnancy: non-teratogenic effects
No information available on general precautions or on precautions concerning
drug and laboratory test interactions; or teratogenic effects in pregnancy.
Dried stigmas; extracts of dried stigmas. Store the dried stigmas in a tightly
sealed metal or glass container, protected from light and moisture.
There is insufficient information available to give an accurate assessment of
dose range. No risk is associated with consumption in standard food use quantities.
The recommended therapeutic daily dose is 3.0– 9.0 g. However, owing to
a report of toxicity at 5.0 g, doses below 5.0 g/day are recommended.