Posted on Thu, 28 Nov 13
Did you know that there are a number of clinical studies showing the culinary spice saffron is as effective as anti-depressant drugs and has no side-effects?
While it’s highly prized as a cooking ingredient, saffron has long been sought-after as a medicine for mental health. According to a traditional Chinese medicine text dating from the Mongol dynasty “...long-term ingestion causes a person’s heart to be happy (1).”
There are several scientific studies that have tested the effects of saffron as a natural anti-depressant and mood stabiliser, with some impressive results (2-9). Saffron is not only as effective as antidepressant medications, it was as well or significantly better tolerated with no more side-effects than placebo. Furthermore, when used along-side anti-depressant medication saffron reduced the incidence of sexual side effects that commonly occur with these drugs.
All these studies used a daily amount of just 30 mg of saffron extract in capsules, often taken as 15 mg morning and night. And you could also use saffron in cooking as just smelling it has been shown to lower the stress hormone cortisol and reduce symptoms of anxiety (10).
1. Dwyer AV, Whitten DL, Hawrelak JA. Herbal medicines, other than St. John's Wort, in the treatment of depression: a systematic review. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Mar;16(1):40-9.
2. Akhondzadeh Basti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, et al. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007;31(2):439–42.
3. Akhondzadeh S, Fallah-Pour H, Afkham K, et al. Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot doubleblind randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2004;4:12.
4. Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Noorbala AA, et al. Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res 2005;19(2):148–51.
5. Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, et al. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebocontrolled trial. Phytomedicine 2006;13(9–10):607–11.
6. Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, et al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;97(2):281–4.
7. Akhondzadeh Basti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Abbasi SH, Akhondzadeh S. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 30;31(2):439-42
8. Modabbernia A, Sohrabi H, Nasehi AA, Raisi F, Saroukhani S, Jamshidi A, Tabrizi M, Ashrafi M, Akhondzadeh S. Effect of saffron on fluoxetine-induced sexual impairment in men: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct;223(4):381-8.
9. Kashani L, Raisi F, Saroukhani S, et al. Saffron for treatment of fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;28(1):54-60.
10. Fukui H, Toyoshima K, Komaki R. Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine. 2011 Jun 15;18(8-9):726-30. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.11.013.