To assess the potential role of saffron in downregulating inflammation and cytokine storm during COVID-19.
Three main compounds of saffron, i.e., crocetin esters, picrocrocin, and safranal, present strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action for several disease states (e.g., Alzheimer’s, cancer, and depression) but have also been studied in COVID-19. In particular, based on our comprehensive review of both and studies, saffron’s essential oils and other constituents appear to have both immunomodulatory and anti-asthmatic actions; these actions can be particularly helpful to treat patients with respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19. Moreover, crocin appears to reduce the COVID-19-related cytokine cascade and downregulate angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 () gene expression. Last, studies suggest that saffron’s astragalin and crocin could have inhibitory actions on SARS-CoV-2 protease and spike protein, respectively.
Saffron represents a promising substance for toning down cytokine storm during COVID-19, as well as a potential preventive treatment for COVID-19. However, appropriate randomized clinical trials, especially those using biomarkers as surrogates to assess inflammatory status, should be designed in order to assess the clinical efficacy of saffron and allow its use as an adjunct treatment modality, particularly in resource-poor settings where access to drugs may be limited.

© 2021 The Authors.