Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (crocus sativus)

Citation metadata

Authors: Hajime Fukuri, Kumiko Toyoshima and Ryoichi Komaki
Date: June 15, 2011
From: Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology(Vol. 18, Issue 8-9)
Publisher: Urban & Fischer Verlag
Document Type: Report
Length: 3,038 words

Main content

Article Preview :


Keywords: Saffron

Crocus sativa

Odor PMS

Stress Hormone


Aim: The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of saffron odor on symptoms unique to women, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) and irregular menstruation. Materials and methods: Thirty-five women with a normal sense of smell were exposed to saffron odor for 20min. Saliva samples were then collected to measure levels of Cortisol (C), testosterone (T) and 17-p estradiol (E) by enzyme immunoassay, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was administered as a psychological test.

Results: Saffron odor significantly decreased C levels after short-term stimulation (20min) in both follicular and luteal phases. E level after exposure to saffron odor was increased in both the follicular-and luteal-phase groups. STAI score decreased in the follicular and luteal phases in the saffron group. Conclusions: The present findings support the existence of physiological and psychological effects of saffron odor in women. Our results indicate that saffron odor exert some effects in the treatment of PMS, dysmenorrhea and irregular menstruation. This is the first report to suggest that saffron odor may be effective in treating menstrual distress.

[c] 2010 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Crocus sativus L stigma, commonly known as saffron, is a perennial stemless herb of the Iridaceae family that is widely cultivated in Iran and other countries, including India and Greece (Rios et al. 1996). Compounds present in saffron that are considered pharmacologically active and important include volatile agents (e.g., safranal), bitter principles (e.g., picrocrocin) and dye materials (e.g., crocetin and its glycoside, crocin) (Rios et al. 1996). In modern pharmacological studies, saffron and its active constituents have demonstrated anticonvulsant (Hosseinzadeh and Khosravan 2002), anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (Hosseinzadeh and Younesi 2002) and antitumor properties (Abdullaev 1993; Escribano et al. 1996). Radical scavenger effects as well as learning and memory-improving properties (Zhang et al. 1994; Abe et al. 1999) and promotion of oxygen diffusion in different tissues have also been reported (Rios et al. 1996). Saffron extract is also chemopreventive and has shown protective effects on genotoxin-induced oxidative stress in mice (Abdullaev 2002; Nair et al. 1995; Premkumar et al. 2003). C sativus extract and its major constituent, crocin, significantly inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells (Aung et al. 2007) and breast cancer cells (Chryssanthietai. 2007; Mousavietal. 2009).

In traditional folk medicine, saffron is recommended as an aphrodisiac (Madan et al. 1966), antispasmodic, eupeptic, gingival, sedative, anticatarrhal, nerve sedative, carminative, diaphoretic expectorant, stimulant, stomachic, aphrodisiac, and emmenagogue (Rios et al. 1996). As an antidepressant (Hosseinzadeh et al. 2004), saffron has been used for depression in Persian traditional medicine (Hosseinzadeh and Younesi 2002; Karimi et ai. 2001; Akhondzadeh et al. 2004; Noorbala et al. 2005). Much of the work surrounds traditional applications for alleviating depression (Karimi et al. 2001; Akhondzadeh et al. 2004, 2005; Noorbala et al. 2005). The clinical findings suggest that saffron is a safe and effective antidepressant (Akhondzadeh et al. 2005). Recent studies have indicated potential as an anticancer agent and memory enhancer...

Source Citation

Source Citation
Fukuri, Hajime, et al. "Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (crocus sativus)." Phytomedicine: International Journal of Phytotherapy & Phytopharmacology, vol. 18, no. 8-9, 15 June 2011, pp. 726+. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A265381697