Immunomodulatory effects of saffron: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial

Phytother Res. 2011 Dec;25(12):1801-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3484. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Saffron is the dried stigmata of the flowers of saffron (Crocus sativus L.). Saffron is rich in carotenoids and carotenoids affect immunity. Thus, in this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial with healthy men aged 21.4 ± 0.8 years (mean ± SE), the effects of taking one 100 mg saffron tablet daily for 6 weeks on the blood serum levels of IgG, IgM, IgA, C(3) and C(4) complements, counts and percentages of white blood cells, platelets, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes and monocytes, levels of some hematological parameters and levels of creatinine, SGOT and SGPT were evaluated in 45 subjects and compared with the placebo group (n = 44). After 3 weeks, saffron increased the IgG level and decreased the IgM level compared with the baseline and placebo (p < 0.01), decreased the percentage of basophils and the count of platelets compared with baseline, but increased the percentage of monocytes compared with placebo (p < 0.05). However, these parameters returned to the baseline levels after 6 weeks. Saffron did not have any significant effects on the other parameters. No adverse effects were reported. The results suggest that the sub-chronic daily use of 100 mg saffron has temporary immunomodulatory activities without any adverse effects.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basophils / immunology
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Humoral / drug effects*
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Tablets
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Tablets
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Creatinine