Saffron (2010, 2015) and Diabetic Retinopathy


Learn more about diabetic retinopathy.

A complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, often associated with diabetic retinopathy, or diabetic eye disease.


Researchers investigated the effects of crocin and safranal which are the primary components of the herb saffron and found that they provide protection to the nervous system. They specifically looked at the neuroprotective effect on peripheral neuropathy in diabetic lab animals.

They found that saffron, provided in addition to insulin improved the biochemical changes above those changes with insulin alone. The results were investigated via biopsy as well as looking at blood glucose levels and other standard measurements. The researchers felt that the neuroprotective effects of the saffron components might be linked to their anti-hyperglycemic and antioxidant capacity.

Researchers: A.A. Farshid, E. Tamaddonfard

Published: Histopathological and behavioral evaluations of the effects of crocin, safranal and insulin on diabetic peripheral neuropathy in rats, Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, September, 2015.

In another study researchers pointed out that protein glycation is one of the most important reasons for diabetes complications (such as diabetic retinopathy).

In this study researchers tested a combination of crocetin (the central core of crocin) and certain amino acids as a preventative for diabetes complications in diabetic lab animals. They found that the combination effectively reduced inflammation, blood sugar levels, bonding of proteins to sugar molecules (contributes to cataracts) and oxidation.

They suggested it could be a new drug to prevent diabetic complications.

Researchers: S. Mahdavifard, et al.

Published: The synergistic effect of antiglycating agents (MB-92) on inhibition of protein glycation, misfolding and diabetic complications in diabetic-atherosclerotic rat, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, December, 2015.


An earlier study also found that saffron could be useful in combating the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, often associated with diabetic retinopathy due to its antioxidant effects.

Researchers: S.H. Mousavi, et al.

Published: Protective effect of saffron extract and crocin on reactive oxygen species-mediated high glucose-induced toxicity in PC12 cells, Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, March, 2010.