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Research from the Middle East has found that saffron – a traditional herb harvested from the flower of Crocus sativus – has been found to significantly reduce certain heat shock proteins and symptoms of metabolic syndrome after three months of supplementation.
The researchers measured the relative levels of heat shock protein 27, HSP60, HSP65 and HSP70 during the treatment of 105 patients with metabolic syndrome. Heat shock protein levels were determined by measuring the antibodies to each type of heat shock protein.
Higher levels of these HSPs have been linked with greater inflammation and higher risk of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome includes higher risks of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The researchers randomly divided the patients into two groups and gave them either 100 milligrams per day of saffron or a placebo.
After three months of treatment, the researchers found that antibodies to heat shock proteins 27 and 70 were significantly reduced by saffron.
Heat shock proteins have accompany the heating up of cells - but certain heat shock proteins are also known to be associated with higher stress, inflammation and toxicity according to the research.
HSP27 and HSP70 - along with HSP60 - have also been linked specifically to atherosclerosis and metabolic syndrome.
Saffron also stimulates immunity and cognition
This isn't the first study that has revealed saffron's abilities to stimulate healing. A clinical study of 89 volunteers found that saffron significantly stimulated immunity compared with the placebo group.
Another placebo-controlled clinical study found that 400 milligrams of saffron in tablet form significantly decreased systolic blood pressure.
Other studies have found saffron decreases erectile dysfunction and improves cognitive function in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Active constituents of saffron include croetins and crocins, together with zeaxanthin, lycopene and carotenes.
Shemshian M, Mousavi SH, Norouzy A, Kermani T, Moghiman T, Sadeghi A, Ghayour-Mobarhan M, Ferns GA. Saffron in metabolic syndrome: its effects on antibody titers to heat-shock proteins 27, 60, 65 and 70. J Complement Integr Med. 2014 Feb 6. pii: /j/jcim.ahead-of-print/jcim-2013-0047/jcim-2013-0047.xml. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2013-0047.
Akhondzadeh S, Sabet MS, Harirchian MH, Togha M, Cheraghmakani H, Razeghi S, Hejazi SSh, Yousefi MH, Alimardani R, Jamshidi A, Zare F, Moradi A. Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Oct;35(5):581-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2710.2009.01133.x.
Kianbakht S, Ghazavi A. Immunomodulatory effects of saffron: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2011 Dec;25(12):1801-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3484.
Akhondzadeh S, Shafiee Sabet M, Harirchian MH, Togha M, Cheraghmakani H, Razeghi S, Hejazi SS, Yousefi MH, Alimardani R, Jamshidi A, Rezazadeh SA, Yousefi A, Zare F, Moradi A, Vossoughi A. A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Jan;207(4):637-43. doi: 10.1007/s00213-009-1706-1.
Shamsa A, Hosseinzadeh H, Molaei M, Shakeri MT, Rajabi O. Evaluation of Crocus sativus L. (saffron) on male erectile dysfunction: a pilot study. Phytomedicine. 2009 Aug;16(8):690-3. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.03.008.