Article by Bahareh Amin, Hossein Hosseinzadeh
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), whose dried stigmas have been used since ancient times as a spice, food colorant, and for medicinal purposes, has shown a range of pharmacological actions, possibly owing to many different active constituents. The main biologically active ingredients of saffron are known to be crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal. Saffron possesses a number of medicinally important properties, such as antihypertensive, hypolipidemic, antitussive, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, antioxidant, anticancer, antinociceptive, and anti-inflammatory effects. It also improves memory and learning skills and prevents and delays Alzheimer’s disease by inhibiting amyloid fibril formation. This chapter discusses the effects of saffron and its constituents in acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain animal models. Allodynia and hyperalgesia induced by chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI) were reversed by ethanolic and aqueous extracts as well as safranal. CCI significantly increased the lumbar spinal cord levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6) and malondialdehyde (MDA) as a lipid peroxidation product, an effect normalized by saffron extracts.