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The immune system is vital for life and health without witch humanity would not have survived the great dangers and threats that existed throughout history. The latest life-threatening being CORONA pandemic which is surging right now with new mutations and yet the immune system of the majority of people is protecting them from infection!
The immune system is a complex process but like any other component of the body, it is influenced by the foods you eat. Foods have a great impact on the body temperature that in turn can activate or deactivate the immune system. In addition, there are compounds that facilitate immune functions in the fight against invaders and infections.
Saffron is a kind of superfood that is packed with such compounds!
In this article, we will review the Saffron effect on the immune system so you can have more peace of mind knowing your beloved spice is helping your immune system against viruses specifically now that COVID-19 is out there!
Saffron is a spice with a chemical structure of 63% sugars, 12% protein, 10% moisture, 5% fat, 5% minerals, and 5% crude fiber. There are more than 150 volatile compounds found in Saffron stigmas the most known of which are Crocin (C44H64O24), Picrocrocin (C16H26O7), and Safranal (C10H14O). They are also the cause of color, flavor, and aroma respectively. There are other compounds such as mineral agents, anthocyanins, glycosides, alkaloids, and flavonoids including Quercetin and Kaempferol that are also potent.
The main bioactive metabolites are from the carotenoids family that is highly anti-inflammatory and help the immune system in the pathophysiology of some health conditions such as atherosclerosis, cancer, metabolic syndrome, neurodegenerative diseases, allergies, and asthma. Saffron has been researched as an adjuvant treatment in vivo and in vitro studies for its immunoregulatory properties.
The anti-inflammatory potential of Saffron is related to its radical scavenging virtue which is mainly caused by crocetin and crocin. Effective pharmacological effects of Saffron also result from its interaction with biological targets and signaling pathways. For example, the immunomodulatory ability of Saffron may be due to direct targeting of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) which are involved in the regulation of various transcription factors like nuclear factor (NF-κB), activator protein 1 (AP-1), and their downstream signaling pathways.
TLRs are involved in crucial functions of the immune system that trigger pro-inflammatory signaling pathways in response to external or internal stimuli. NF-κB plays a vital role in producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and Saffron has an inhibitory effect on them by suppressing NF-κB activity which is critical in autoimmune disorders!
A toxicological study has proved that exposure to safranal did not have any significant effect on mice blood cellularity (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes) and total white blood cells (WBCs) count but Saffron significantly decreased the basophils percentage.
Therefore, Saffron and its compounds could be considered as a promising immunoregulatory agent in the treatment of immune disorders.
If you are wondering what all these terminologies translate to simple language, here is the answer:
Saffron helps your immune system in regulating responses to internal and external stimuli. Either the foreign invaders or the internal rogue cells, Saffron is effective in stimulating proper responses and achieving successful results.
Persian Saffron specifically has the highest immunoregulatory compounds such as crocin and crocetin that in the smallest amounts can help your body win the fight against infections and diseases. It has the most exotic aroma, the rarest golden yellow color, and the most unique bitter taste, all of which are caused by these very same chemicals.
Enjoy your Iranian Saffron and remember it is fighting for your health and wellness at this time of the global pandemic.