Saffron – The Spice With Potent Anti-Depressant Properties

Saffron – The Spice With Potent Anti-Depressant Properties

Research has found that the spice saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has potent anti-depressant properties and can effectively reduce symptoms of depression.

Saffron is considered to be the world’s most expensive spice and can trade for prices around $5000 US dollars per kg.

Saffron has a long history of both medicinal usage and culinary as a spice. It is an inhabitant of different mountainous regions of Asia Minor to Greece, Western Asia, Egypt, and India.

Clinical studies have found that saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has a number of potential health benefits including anti-depressant, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory, lowering blood pressure, boost sexual function and much more.

1. Saffron Anti-Depressant Mechanisms

Saffron is thought to exert its anti-depressant effect through a number of different mechanisms from increasing levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuro-endocrine and neuroprotective effect.

The major bioactive compounds identified are safranal, crocin, and picrocrocin, which are responsible for its aroma as well as its bitter taste. [1]

Research has found that alterations of the IO&NS pathways to play a key role in the pathophysiology of major depressive disorder.

Saffron has been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties:

These medicinal properties of saffron may be attributed to a number of its compounds such as crocetin, crocins, and safranal, which have strong antioxidant and radical scavenger properties to protect against a variety of reactive radical oxygen species and pro-inflammatory cytokines. [1]

2. Saffron & Major Depressive Disorder

A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in 2013 examined the effects of saffron supplementation on symptoms of depression among participants with MDD.

The meta-analysis concluded:

Findings from clinical trials conducted to date indicate that saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with MDD. [2]

3. Saffron Equally As Efficacious As Fluoxetine and Imipramine

A number of studies have confirmed that not only is Saffron significantly more effective than placebo for improving symptoms of depression, but its also equally as effacacious as several pharmaceutical anti-depressant medications.

Saffron stigma was found to be significantly more effective than placebo and equally as efficacious as fluoxetine and imipramine.

Saffron petal was significantly more effective than placebo and was found to be equally efficacious compared to fluoxetine and saffron stigma. [4]

4. A Natural Anti-Depressant Without The Sexual Dysfunction Side Effects Of SSRI’s

One of the most common reported side effects in about 50% of patients associated with pharmaceutical anti-depressants such as the SSRI(Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) class is sexual dysfunction.

Saffron on the other hand has actually shown to have positive effect on sexual function in studies and to improve erectile dysfunction in men.

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis published 2019 evaluated the effect of Saffron on sexual dysfunction in men and women.

The systematic review and meta-analysis concluded:

In general, saffron was proven effective in improving sexual dysfunction and its subscales among participants; this effect was different on different dimensions of sexual dysfunction. [5]

Best Saffron Supplements:

Mind Nutrition UK are my favorite supplier of Premium Organic Saffron Extract Capsules.

affron® is a unique standardized Saffron Extract (Crocus sativus L.) that is cultivated and produced in Spain.

affron® is a next-generation saffron extract standardized to Lepticrosalides® which are analyzed by HPLC (High-Performance Liquid Chromatography) for the very highest standard of purity assessment.

With clinical studies supporting its dosage/effectiveness, safety, and multiple benefits.  Contains crocins, crocetin and safranal.


Best Saffron Supplements


[1] Saffron (Crocus sativus L.): As an Antidepressant

[1.5] Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action

[2] Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials

[3] Efficacy of Crocus Sativus (Saffron) in Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder Associated With Post-Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

[4] Herbal Medicines, Other Than St. John’s Wort, in the Treatment of Depression: A Systematic Review

[5] Effects of saffron (Crocus sativus) on sexual dysfunction among men and women: A systematic review and meta-analysis

The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

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