77. CROCUS, N.F.—SAFFRON. The stigmas of Cro'cus sati'vus Linné. Asia Minor and Greece; cultivated for market in Spain, France, and other temperate countries of Europe; also cultivated in the southeastern counties of Pennsylvania. Commercial saffron is mostly of French or Spanish origin; a product of the Cape of Good Hope known as Cape saffron, resembling the genuine in odor, is a flower of a small plant belonging to the Scrophulariaceae ("Pharm. Journal," VI, 462, 1865). "American saffron" consists usually of safflower. The commercial or "hay saffron" consists of orange-brown stigmas, separate, or united (three) to the top of the style, about 30 mm. (1 1/5 in.) long, almost filiform, enlarging toward the top, which is toothed; their edges are rolled in, giving them a flattish-tubular appearance; crisp and somewhat elastic; orange-brown; odor peculiar, aromatic; taste pungent, bitterish. In selecting saffron the above characteristics should be borne in mind; the drug should not emit an offensive smell when thrown upon live coals. If it has a musty flavor or a black, yellowish, or whitish color, it should be rejected. If the cake saffron be purchased, those should be selected which are close, tough, and firm in tearing. Owing to its high price, saffron offers a great field for adulteration, which is done in various ways. The commonest is to mix the stigmas with the styles, which may be distinguished by their lighter color. Old saffron and that deprived of its coloring matter leaves an oily stain when pressed between paper, due to the fixed oil with which they are covered to conceal their false nature. The florets of other flowers, as calendula, carthamus, and arnica, may be detected by dropping them into water, when their characteristic forms will come out. Mineral adulterants, which are sometimes found to the extent of 20 per cent., will subside to the bottom when the suspected drug is placed on water; carbonate of lime will effervesce when a drop of acid is placed on the suspected drug. Constituents: An orange-red coloring matter, which gives to saffron its chief value; a glucoside, usually called crocin, C44H70O28, but formerly called polychroit, because of the many different colors it gives with acids; crocetin, C34H46O9, and a volatile oil, C10H16, upon which its medicinal virtues depend. Saffron has fallen into almost complete disuse among practitioners of the United States and Great Britain, but it is occasionally used in domestic practice in the form of a tea, to promote eruption in measles, scarlet fever, and other exanthematous diseases. Dose: 5 to 30 gr. (0-3 to 2 Gm.). Chiefly used for coloring preparations.
- Tinctura Croci (10 per cent.). (U.S.P. 1890), Dose: 1 to 2 dr. (4 to 8 mils).
A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.