Saffron for strong immune system

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 immune system of majority of people is protecting them from infection!
Immune system is a complex process but like any other component of the body, it is influenced by the foods you eat. Foods have great impact on the body temperature that in turn can activate or deactivate immune system. In addition, there are compounds that facilitate immune functions in fight against invaders and infections. Saffron is a kind of superfood that is packed with such compounds!
In this article, we will review Saffron effect on 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!

How does Saffron help your immune system?

Saffron is a spice with 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 carotenoids family that are highly anti inflammatory and help the immune system in 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 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 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!

Saffron for strong immune system

  • Saffron effect on immuno-inflammatory cells
    Saffron is considered a therapeutic herbal agent to prevent damages caused by neutrophil cells in acute inflammatory processes. It is believed that within inflammatory processes, there is increase in the number, lifespan, mobility, tissue influx ability and phagocytic activity of neutrophil cells.
    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.
    The anti-inflammatory power of crocin and safranal was also evaluated by decreasing the number of neutrophils count, infiltration of neutrophils in paw tissues and inflammatory pain responses in an animal model study. The result revealed that safranal and Saffron did not have any significant effects on the count of WBC but crocin and safranal did decrease immune cells in paw tissues of animals.
  • Saffron effect on natural killer cells
    Anti-cancer effect of Saffron carotenoids specifically crocin and crocetin are well under research due to their effect on modulation of immune responses and the natural killer cells (NK-cell). So far they have been proved effective in increasing NK-cell activity in the elderly.

Saffron for strong immune system

  • Saffron effect on lymphoid and myeloid cells
    Once study has reported the effect of safranal on total and differential counts of WBC in guinea-pigs. The administration of all concentrations of Saffron specifically safranal significantly enhanced most types of WBCs but only a high concentration of the extract decreased the total WBCs number in treated group. The study concluded that safranal alone is more effective in improvement of lymphocyte and eosinophil compared to the Saffron extract but the extract had a stronger preventive effect on total WBC count than that of safranal!
    Based on another study, daily use of 100 mg Saffron for 6 weeks resulted in alterations in the immunological and hematological indices without any adverse effects. It did not have any significant effect on the WBCs count or the percentage of neutrophils, eosinophils and lymphocytes but the basophils percentage in the Saffron group were decreased significantly!
  • Saffron effect on major pro-inflammatory cytokines
    Based on the available literature, immunomodulatory properties of Saffron are mediated by various mechanisms like modulation of innate immunity and acquired immunity component. Most of the pharmacological effects of Saffron are caused by crocin and crocetin. It appears that they can modulate MAPK and NF-κB pathways, control the expression of genes that encode pro-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, TNF-α and also control inducible enzymes such as COX-2 and iNOS along with adhesion molecules such as ICAM, VCAM, E-selectin, in addition to chemokines and some of the acute phase proteins, all of which act critically in controlling most inflammatory processes in immune system.
    Therefore, Saffron and its compounds could be considered as a promising immunoregulatory agent in 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 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 global pandemic.