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REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 228-234

The history of saffron in China: From its origin to applications


1 School of Pharmacy, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
2 School of Pharmacy, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China; Pharmaceutical Services Program, Ministry of Health, Selangor 46200, Malaysia
3 School of Pharmacy, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203; Engineering Research Center of Shanghai Colleges for TCM New Drug Discovery, Shanghai 201203, China

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Hong- Xi Xu
School of Pharmacy, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203; Engineering Research Center of Shanghai Colleges for TCM New Drug Discovery, Shanghai 201203
China
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_38_21

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Saffron (Stigma Croci) is an autumn-flowering perennial plant, and its use has a history of over 3500 years. Saffron has often been considered as the costliest medicinal plant, a premium spice, and the best dye with a golden yellowish color. Iran currently produces the finest quality saffron and dominates its global production (>90%). Other countries such as Australia, Canada, the USA, China, and some countries in Central Africa, produce saffron at a lower yield. In China, saffron is celebrated as “red gold” owing to the red stigmas of the flower and its price, which is comparable to the price of gold. Saffron has been one of the most attractive traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) herbs in the Zhong Guo Yao Dian (《中国药典》Chinese Pharmacopoeia) since its inclusion in the 2005 edition. The earliest use of saffron in TCM was recorded in the Ben Cao Shi Yi (《本草拾遗》Supplement to Materia Medica) written during the Tang dynasty (741 A.D.). However, saffron grown in inland China has been widely mistaken as originating from Tibet. This is because its Chinese name begins with “Xi” or “Zang,” which sounds similar to its Tibetan name (“Xi Zang”). In this review, we clarify the origin of saffron and its introduction to China and summarize its various applications.


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