Saffron: a promising natural medicine in the treatment of metabolic syndrome

J Sci Food Agric. 2017 Apr;97(6):1679-1685. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8134. Epub 2017 Jan 12.


Metabolic syndrome is a disorder which encompasses obesity, high blood glucose, high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Moreover, metabolic syndrome is considered as the most important risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the leading cause of mortality in the world for both men and women. Several chemical drugs are available to treat metabolic risk factors, but because of the safety, efficacy, cultural acceptability and lesser side effects, nowadays herbal therapy has a critical role in the treatment of these CVD risk factors. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) is a perennial herb that belongs to the Iridaceae family. Saffron is an extensively used food additive for its colour and taste and has been widely used in traditional as well as modern medicine to treat several illnesses including cardiovascular diseases. Most of the unique properties of this plant are attributed to the presence of three major components, including crocin, safranal and crocetin. It has been proved that saffron has an important role in the management of metabolic syndrome because of its marvelous activities including anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, hypotensive and hypolipidaemic properties. In this review article, we discuss the beneficial properties of saffron and its active components to treat different components of metabolic syndrome and most relevant animal and human studies regarding the use of this plant in cardiovascular disease, with focus on the metabolic risk factors. This review also suggests that after randomised clinical trials, saffron may be implicated as a preventive or therapeutic agent against metabolic syndrome. © 2016 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: Crocus sativus L.; cardiovascular disease; diabetes; dyslipidaemia; hypertension; metabolic syndrome; obesity; saffron.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crocus / chemistry*
  • Flowers / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Plant Extracts