Anti-Depressant Properties of Crocin Molecules in Saffron

Molecules. 2022 Mar 23;27(7):2076. doi: 10.3390/molecules27072076.


Saffron is a valued herb, obtained from the stigmas of the C. sativus Linn (Iridaceae), with therapeutic effects. It has been described in pharmacopoeias to be variously acting, including as an anti-depressant, anti-carcinogen, and stimulant agent. The therapeutic effects of saffron are harbored in its bioactive molecules, notably crocins, the subject of this paper. Crocins have been demonstrated to act as a monoamine oxidase type A and B inhibitor. Furthermore, saffron petal extracts have experimentally been shown to impact contractile response in electrical field stimulation. Other research suggests that saffron also inhibits the reuptake of monoamines, exhibits N-methyl-d-aspartate antagonism, and improves brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling. A host of experimental studies found saffron/crocin to be similarly effective as fluoxetine and imipramine in the treatment of depression disorders. Saffron and crocins propose a natural solution to combat depressive disorders. However, some hurdles, such as stability and delivery, need to be overcome.

Keywords: Crocus sativus; crocin; natural anti-depressants; saffron; traditional medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Products*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology
  • Coloring Agents
  • Crocus*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Biological Products
  • Coloring Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Carotenoids
  • crocin