Historical uses of saffron: Identifying potential new avenues for modern research

Document Type : Review Article


1 Faculty of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, I. R. Iran

2 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, I. R. Iran


Objective: During the ancient times, saffron (Crocus sativus L.) had many uses around the world; however, some of these uses were forgotten throughout the history. But a newly formed interest in natural active compounds brought back the attention toward historical uses of saffron. Understanding different uses of saffron in the past can help us finding the best uses at present.In this study, wereviewed different uses of saffron throughout the history among different nations.
Methods: ISI web of Science and Medline, along with references of traditional Iranian medicine were searched for historical uses of saffron.
Results: Saffron has been known since more than 3000 years ago by many nations. It was valued not only as a culinary condiment, but also as a dye, perfume and as a medicinal herb. Its medicinal uses ranged from treating eye problems to genitourinary and many other diseases in various cultures. It was also used as a tonic agent and antidepressant drug among many nations.
Conclusion(s): Saffron has had many different uses such as a food additive and a palliative agent for many human diseases. Thus, as an important medicinal herb, it is a good candidate with many promising potentials to be considered for new drug design.