Abstract Title:

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and health outcomes: a meta-research review of meta-analyses and an evidence mapping study.

Abstract Source:

Phytomedicine. 2021 Aug 8 ;91:153699. Epub 2021 Aug 8. PMID: 34419735

Abstract Author(s):

Cuncun Lu, Lixin Ke, Jieyun Li, Haitong Zhao, Tingting Lu, Alexios Fotios A Mentis, Youyou Wang, Zhifei Wang, Moschos G Polissiou, Liyao Tang, Hao Tang, Kehu Yang

Article Affiliation:

Cuncun Lu


BACKGROUND: Although a number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) have been published, no study has comprehensively summarized the clinical evidence from meta-analyses, or assessed the reporting or methodological quality of these reviews.

PURPOSE: The present meta-research study was designed to fill the gaps in knowledge to inform future studies and allow enhanced clinical decision-making on saffron.

METHODS: The PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and CNKI databases were systematically searched from inception to April 3 rd, 2021, for meta-analyses of clinical trials that assessed the efficacy and safety of saffron. PRISMA 2009 and AMSTAR-2 were employed to assess the reporting and methodological quality of meta-analyses identified in the search, respectively. The present study was registered on PROSPERO with registration number CRD42020220274.

RESULTS: Nineteen eligible systematic reviews with meta-analyses published in English were identified from 235 records. These meta-analyses were published in 12 peer-reviewed journals from 2013 to 2021. The heterogeneous results indicated that saffron significantly reduced fasting blood glucose, waist circumference, diastolic blood pressure, concentrations of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improved symptoms of depression, cognitive function and sexual dysfunction compared with controls (mainly placebos). Common side effects of saffron consumption included nausea, dry mouth, poor appetite, and headache, but no serious adverse reactions were reported. Primary analysis and sensitivity analysis confirmed that the reporting and methodological quality of reviews included in the study were highly correlated (p<0.001). The quality of meta-analyses of saffron requires improvement by including a structured abstract, a prospective protocol and registration, explanation of the study designs within each study that is reviewed, the searches, risk of bias assessment, literature selection, and reporting of funding sources.

CONCLUSION: The available evidence indicates that saffron is a safe plant for administration as a medicine and can improve diverse clinical outcomes, but the scientific quality of the published systematic reviews needs to be improved. Moreover, the clinical effects of saffron need to be confirmed through high-quality randomized trials in multiple countries with large sample sizes.

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Sayer Ji
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