The effect of saffron, Crocus sativus stigma, extract and its constituents, safranal and crocin on sexual behaviors in normal male rats

Phytomedicine. 2008 Jun;15(6-7):491-5. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.09.020. Epub 2007 Oct 24.


In this study, the aphrodisiac activities of Crocus sativus stigma aqueous extract and its constituents, safranal and crocin, were evaluated in male rats. The aqueous extract (80, 160 and 320mg/kg body wt.), crocin (100, 200 and 400mg/kg body wt.), safranal (0.1, 0.2 and 0.4ml/kg), sildenafil (60mg/kg body wt., as a positive control) and saline were administered intraperitoneally to male rats. Mounting frequency (MF), intromission frequency (IF), erection frequency (EF), mount latency (ML), intromission latency (IL) and ejaculation latency (EL) were the factors evaluated during the sexual behavior study. Crocin, at all doses, and the extract, especially at doses 160 and 320mg/kg body wt., increased MF, IF and EF behaviors and reduced EL, IL and ML parameters. Safranal did not show aphrodisiac effects. The present study reveals an aphrodisiac activity of saffron aqueous extract and its constituent crocin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphrodisiacs / analysis
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Carotenoids / therapeutic use
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Cyclohexenes / analysis
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology*
  • Cyclohexenes / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy
  • Terpenes / analysis
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use


  • Aphrodisiacs
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Plant Extracts
  • Terpenes
  • Carotenoids
  • safranal
  • crocin