saffron helps people with subclinical depression, stress and low mood

What if finally helping your depression was just a beautiful flower away? A new study adds to the mountain of evidence that this safe, beautiful herb is one of the most important treatments for depression.

Depression has become frighteningly common. As many as 4.4% of the entire world may struggle with depression. And many more may have undiagnosed subclinical depression. Drugs often fail to live up to their promise and bring with them the added depression of side effects.

But saffron has been repeatedly shown to be powerfully effective and very safe. And now a new study adds to that promise.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study lasted 8 weeks and measured the effect of 30mg of saffron extract on emotional well-being in healthy people with subclinical feelings of low mood and anxiety or stress. The saffron extract was standardized for 0.2% safranal.

There was no difference between saffron and placebo on the Profile of Mood State (POMS) Total mood score. But check out what the saffron did do. On the POMS subscale for depression, there was a significant benefit for saffron.

On the World Health Organization Quality of Life questionnaire, the saffron group had significantly greater improvement on scores for social relationship. They also did better on scores for coping, showing a greater ability to interpret events positively than people in the placebo group.

When exposed to a stressor, saffron also beneficially affected heart rate variability, suggesting that saffron may be very valuable for “increasing resilience against the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders.”

The saffron was remarkably safe. There were the same number of adverse events in the saffron group and the placebo group, and none of them were serious.

This study is especially important because it demonstrated an ability of saffron to improve depression, social relationships, coping ability and stress in people with subclinical mood problems. That makes saffron a very valuable herb for the huge number of people who have stress and depression that is not clinically diagnosed. This adds a huge benefit to saffron’s already proven benefit for people with clinical depression.


Front Nutr. 2020;7:606124


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