Saffron (Crocus sativus) is a plant. The dried thread-like parts of the flower (stigmas) are used to make saffron spice, food coloring, and medicine.

Saffron contains chemicals that might alter mood, kill cancer cells, decrease swelling, and act like antioxidants. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated in Iran and harvested by hand. It's one of the world's most expensive spices.

People commonly use saffron for depression, anxiety, Alzheimer disease, menstrual cramps, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

How does it work ?

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

There is interest in using saffron for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Saffron is commonly consumed as a spice or coloring in foods. Saffron is possibly safe when taken as a medicine in doses up to 100 mg daily for up to 26 weeks. Some common side effects include drowsiness, stomach problems, and nausea or vomiting. Allergic reactions are also possible.

Taking large amounts of saffron by mouth is possibly unsafe. High doses of 5 grams or more can cause poisoning. Doses of 12-20 grams can cause death.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if saffron is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy: Saffron is commonly consumed as a spice or coloring in foods. Taking saffron by mouth in amounts larger than what is normally found in food is likely unsafe. Larger amounts of saffron can make the uterus contract and might cause a miscarriage.

Breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if saffron is safe to use when breast-feeding in amounts greater than those found in food. Stay on the safe side and stick to food amounts.

Bipolar disorder: Saffron seems to be able to affect mood. It might trigger excitability and impulsive behavior in people with bipolar disorder. Don't use saffron if you have this condition.

Allergies to Lolium, Olea (includes olive), and Salsola plant species: People who are allergic to these plants might also be allergic to saffron.

Surgery: Saffron slows down the central nervous system. Anesthesia and other medications used during surgery also affect the central nervous system. Stop taking saffron at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) interacts with SAFFRON

    Saffron might lower blood pressure. Taking saffron along with medications that lower blood pressure might cause blood pressure to go too low. Monitor your blood pressure closely.

  • Caffeine interacts with SAFFRON

    Saffron might decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking saffron with caffeine might increase the effects and side effects of caffeine in some people.

  • Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with SAFFRON

    Saffron might lower blood sugar levels. Taking saffron along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with SAFFRON

    Saffron might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking saffron with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.


Saffron is commonly used as a spice and coloring agent in foods. As medicine, saffron extract has most often been used by adults in doses of 20-100 mg by mouth daily for up to 3 months. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.