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is a natural carotenoid
Carotenoids are tetraterpenoid organic pigments that are naturally occurring in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and some other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some bacteria, and some types of fungus. Carotenoids can be synthesized fats and other basic organic metabolic building...
Carboxylic acids are organic acids characterized by the presence of at least one carboxyl group. The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R-COOH, where R is some monovalent functional group...
that is found in the crocus
Crocus is a genus in the iris family comprising about 80 species of perennials growing from corms. Many are cultivated for their flowers appearing in autumn, winter, or spring...
flower and Gardenia jasminoides
Gardenia jasminoides, is a fragrant flowering evergreen tropical plant, a favorite in gardens worldwide. It originated in Asia and is most commonly found growing in Vietnam, Southern China, Taiwan, Japan and India...
(fruits). It forms brick red crystals with a melting point of 285 °C.
The chemical structure of crocetin is the central core of crocin
Crocin is a natural carotenoid chemical compound that is found in the flowers crocus and gardenia. It is the diester formed from the disaccharide gentiobiose and the dicarboxylic acid crocetin. It has a deep red color and forms crystals with a melting point of 186 °C...
, the compound responsible for the color of saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...
Crocin and crocetin may provide neuroprotection
Neuroprotection within the nervous system protects neurons from apoptosis or degeneration, for example following a brain injury or as a result of chronic neurodegenerative diseases....
in rats by reducing the production of various neurotoxic molecules, based on an in-vitro cell study.
Physiological effects on mammals
A 2009 study involving 14 individuals indicated that oral administration of crocetin may decrease the effects of physical fatigue in healthy men.
A recent (2010) pilot study investigated the effect of crocetin on sleep. The clinical trial comprised a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of 21 healthy adult men with a mild sleep complaint. It concluded that crocetin may (p=0.025) contribute to improving the quality of sleep.