Ayurvedic medicinal spice saffron found to inhibit Liver Cancer


Saffron, a naturally derived plant product has been found to prevent or protect against Liver Cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma), according to latest study conducted by the professors in UAE, and published in the journal Recent Patents on Anticancer Drug Discovery.

The research revealed that the wonder spice comprises of a bio-moclecule that is beneficial for liver. The study was aimed at examining the chemo-preventive action of saffron’s main bio-molecule, ‘Crocetin’ or ‘crocin’, against chemically-induced liver cancer in rats and also to study the mechanisms by which crocin employs its anti-tumour effects.

“Our findings suggest that saffron provides an anti-cancer protective effect, promoting cell death, and inhibiting proliferation of cancerous cells and blocking inflammations,” the researchers said.

At the end of the study, the authors, based on their findings, concluded that crocin can be a potential chemo-preventive agent against Hepatocellular Carcinoma or Liver Cancer.

Several previous studies have also shown that saffron possess antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Spices like saffron, and turmeric in particular, have in-built medicinal properties, which, when incorporated into our diet from an early state, helps strengthen our bodies against invasion of toxins, viruses and bacteria.

Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of saffron crocus, a plant native to Southwest Asia. The natural carotenoid in the spice, namely, “Crocin” is the primary cancer-fighting element in Saffron. Apart from inhibiting the progression of the disease, it also decreases the size of the tumour by half, thereby ensuring complete prevention of the disease.

Saffron is among the most expensive spices in the world, derived from about 250,000 flower stigmas. There is plenty of such information that points to the ability of saffron in inhibiting cancer.

Some of the previous studies dating back to the year 2004, has shown that aqueous saffron preparations can inhibit chemically induced skin carcinogenesis, wherein both changes in carcinogen bioactivation and tumour proliferation may occur. Later, studies in 2007, and 2009, have shown that similar to other spices, Saffron suppresses cell growth in neoplastic cells to a large extent than in normal cells, and the ability of crocin to decrease cell viability occurs in a concentration and time-dependent manner.


Ayurvedic texts reveal that the herb ‘Crocus Sativus’, also known by names ‘kumkuma’ or ‘saffron’, is grouped under “Varnya” gana, which means the one which imparts fairness or glow to skin. Saffron is considerably used in Ayurveda, Unani and Chinese medicinal preparations.

Ayurveda pharmacology shows that saffron is ‘bitter’ to taste, increases body fire, and balances tridoshas (vata, pitta and kapha). In Ayurveda, saffron is also often referred to as the golden spice, and used as an important medicinal ingredient in large number of Ayurvedic medicines due to its strong antipoisonous, cardiotonic, carminative, diuretic, aphrodisiac, stimulant, febrifuge, nervine tonic, sedative and styptic properties, and is highly valued in Ayurveda.

It is also used in treating arthritis, acne, apoplexy, colic, asthma, cough, dyspepsia, liver disorders, mental disorders, insect bites and stings, oedema, painful menstruation, male reproductive issues, sore throat, splenic disorders etc. It contributes largely in improving weak eyesight and is much valued as a complexion builder, as it adds a healthy glow and brightness to the body.

However, Saffron is a potent spice. Excessive intake may be harmful. The dosage of saffron intake is dependent on factors like climatic conditions, health, age of the individual and the manner in which the dosage is taken. When taking saffron for medical reasons, it should always be taken as per proper medical advice.