You will know of saffron as the spice used to taste dishes such as bouillabaisse and paella, but saffron infusion has a long and varied history in herbal medicine spanning over 2,500 decades. According to a review study from 2014, it has been used in a variety of countries to deal with skin disease, respiratory problems, bad vision, pain, psychological illness, gynecological problems, erectile dysfunction, and illnesses.
The blossom of C. sativus is a light purple, but it’s the thread-like reddish-colored stigma of the flower, in which the pollen germinates, that is appreciated both as a spice. It requires about 36,000 blossoms, which are harvested by hand, to give just one pound of stigmas. Over 200,000 dried stigmas (obtained from about 70,000 blossoms ) yield 500 g of original saffron. Due to the farming, harvesting, and handling, saffron–which can cost around $260 an ounce in the American market–would be the most expensive spice in the world.
Thus the reason it’s often referred to as”Red Gold.”More than 150 compounds exist in saffron, but the critical ones are crocetin and crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal, which are responsible to saffron’s color, taste, and odor.2 These compounds are all strong antioxidants, molecules that protect cells from free radicals and oxidative stress, and scientists propose that lots of saffron’s favorable effects may be credited to them.
Saffron has been proven to be useful in several diseases, and according to some review study from 2015, it is time to move into more advanced stages of study or to even develop a medication for the use of saffron in treating depression and Alzheimer’s disease.4 However, there is considerably weaker supporting evidence for most other proposed uses, such as preventing or treating cancer, reducing cholesterol and other cardiovascular benefits, and improving skin. 5Here is a look at some hints about the key Advantages of saffron from the available study:
Preliminary studies indicate this culinary spice is beneficial in treating mood disorders. At a 2016 double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 60 adults with anxiety and depression received either 50 milligrams (mg) of saffron or a placebo twice daily for 12 months. According to researchers, saffron seemed to have an important impact on stress and depression compared to those receiving a placebo, and side effects were infrequent.
At a 2015 study printed in the Journal of Affective Disorders, adults with major depressive disorder took crocin (an active constituent of saffron) or a placebo combined with Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), or Celexa (citalopram), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRI) that are commonly used for depression. Results demonstrated that the group carrying crocin had significantly improved scores on self-reported evaluations in comparison to people taking the placebo. At a 2014 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, adults with mild-to-moderate depression took either a saffron nutritional supplement or Prozac per day for six weeks.8 At the study’s conclusion, the saffron infusion was shown to be as effective as Prozac.
An overview of six clinical trials with antidepressant or placebo controls printed in the Human Psychopharmacology at 2014 reasoned that “study conducted so far provides initial support for the use of saffron for the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression.” The authors found that saffron extract had a large treatment effect compared to a placebo and was as effective as antidepressant drugs.
When studied on teens with mild-to-moderate symptoms at a 2018 study, but the improvements in anxiety and depressive symptoms which the teens reported after taking 14 milligrams of saffron twice a day for eight weeks were inconsistently corroborated by their parents.10
Although the use of saffron in melancholy is poorly understood, some research indicates it might work like SSRIs to raise brain levels of serotonin, a chemical known to regulate mood. Once used as a weight-loss aid, saffron supplements are purported to curb appetite and reduce cravings. Some proponents suggest that saffron raises brain levels of serotonin and, consequently, helps prevent compulsive overeating and the associated weight gain.
Saffron extract shows promise as a means of controlling compulsive eating, according to a small study published in Nutrition Research at 2010.11 For the study, healthy women who were mildly overweight took either a saffron-containing nutritional supplement or a placebo every day for eight weeks. Caloric intake was unrestricted.
Study results demonstrated that participants of this saffron group experienced a significantly greater reduction in snacking along with a considerably greater reduction in body weight when compared with members of the placebo group. The study’s authors note that saffron supposedly mood-enhancing effects could contribute to the reduction in snacking regularity. Saffron is included as a component in some vision supplements, and many tiny studies suggest it might be beneficial in the early phases of age-related macular degeneration.
In one randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial published in 2018, adults with mild-to-moderate AMD were given 20 milligrams of saffron or a placebo for 3 weeks. Researchers reasoned that saffron modestly enhanced visual function and that because of the chronic nature of AMD, longer-term supplementation could produce greater gains.12 In another early study published in 2016, daily supplementation with 30 milligrams of saffron for 2 months was associated with statistically significant changes in retinal function in patients using both dry and wet AMD.6
Preliminary research suggests that saffron may inhibit the aggregation and deposition of beta-amyloid plaques within your brain and may, therefore, be useful in Alzheimer’s disease. In two arbitrary, double-blind, controlled clinical trials on patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease, saffron improved mental function. In the initial study, patients were treated with 30 mg of saffron (15 mg twice a day) or placebo for 16 weeks. In the second study, patients had been treated with either 30 mg of saffron (15 mg twice per day) or five milligrams twice daily of the drug Aricept (donepezil) for 22 weeks. In both studies, the authors reported that saffron produced a substantially superior effect on cognitive functioning than the placebo. They also revealed that the efficacy of saffron on improving the cognition rating of Alzheimer’s patients has been equal to the of Aricept.
While the mechanism of action of saffron on sexual role is unknown, a 2018 review of six posts found that many studies reported its usefulness about five measurements of erectile dysfunction, including erectile function, sexual desire, sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and overall satisfaction. But, researchers discovered contradictory impacts on semen in infertile men.13
Saffron extract might help alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to a 2008 study by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. After accepting saffron supplements daily during two menstrual cycles, study participants had a significantly greater decrease in PMS symptoms than those who took a placebo for the identical time period.14
Potential Side Effects
Though saffron is deemed safe for most people when consumed in the small amounts typically used in cooking, usage of saffron or saffron supplements may trigger mild side effects. In smaller doses of 30 to 50 mg, which many studies used, unwanted effects mainly consist of nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and dry mouth. Study authors report no substantial difference between saffron and placebo in regards to unwanted effects.
As recorded in traditional medicine, saffron had been used for abortion, and in high doses (five grams) it has been demonstrated to have the ability to induce uterine stimulants and also have estrogenic effects in animals. As a result, you should not take saffron if you are pregnant. In 1 study among healthy women, taking 400 mg of saffron daily for 2 days caused abnormal uterine bleeding in two women. Authors of one review study couldn’t find any research on the interactions between different drugs and saffron.
However, they indicate a cautious approach for using saffron in people under anticoagulant (blood-thinning) treatment or those with certain kinds of kidney disorders. As with any supplement, if you are considering using cheap saffron for health purposes, speak to your healthcare provider first to weigh the pros and cons. Additionally, remember that self-treating a condition like depression and preventing or delaying regular care may have serious impacts.
Dosage and Preparation
As a nutritional supplement, up to 1.5 grams of saffron can be safely taken per day. It’s deemed poisonous when ingested at doses greater than 5 g and maybe lethal at doses of over 20 grams each day. Clinical trials have evaluated doses ranging from 20 mg a day to 400 mg each day, though the most common effective doses being applied in clinical trials are 30 mg to 50 mg every day.