Editor's Note
Patients with acute ischemic  stroke  were randomly allocated to receive either routine stroke care or routine care plus aqueous extract of saffron  capsule  (200 mg/day) to assess the effect of saffron as a neuroprotective natural product. The severity of stroke during the first four days was significantly lower in the saffron-treated group. At the end of the three-month follow-up period, the mean  Barthel index  was significantly higher in the saffron-treated group suggesting short and long-term neuroprotective effects of aqueous extract of saffron on ischemic stroke in humans.
Abstract

Ethnopharmacological relevance
Crocus sativus  L. has been used throughout the world in traditional medicine as a treatment for  neurological disorders  such as depression. Growing attention is currently being paid to the use of  neuroprotective agents  in  ischemic strokes .

Aim of the study
This study assessed the effect of saffron as a neuroprotective natural product in cerebral ischemia in human.

Study design
Patients with acute ischemic  stroke  were randomly allocated to receive either routine stroke care (control group, n = 20) or routine care plus aqueous extract of saffron  capsule  (200 mg/day) (saffron-treated group, n = 19). Both groups were monitored during their four-day hospital stay and the three-month follow-up period. The groups were compared in terms of short- and long-term effects of saffron capsules using the National Institute of Health Stoke Scale (NIHSS), Barthel Scale, and serum  neuron specific enolase  (NSE),  Brain-derived neurotrophic factor  (BDNF), S100 levels.

Results
Based on the NIHSS, the severity of stroke during the first four days was significantly lower in the saffron-treated group than in the control group (P < 0.05). Compared to the levels on the first day, serum NSE and s100 levels were significantly decreased and  BDNF  concentration was increased in the saffron-treated group on the fourth day. Also, our results showed there was a negative significant non-linear cubic regression between BDNF concentration and score of NIHSS. At the end of the three-month follow-up period, the mean  Barthel index  was significantly higher in the saffron-treated group than in the control group (P < 0.001).

Conclusion
The results of this study confirmed the short and long-term neuroprotective effects of aqueous extract of saffron on ischemic stroke in humans.