Both in The Natural Path Newsletter and on this blog, we have written a lot about the intriguing research that has been going on on saffron. Now a review has been published that collects and summarizes that research. It looks like saffron could be an exciting new herb. . . .



Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies have shown that 30mg of saffron a day improves cognition. In fact, 30mg a day of saffron is comparable to donepezil, the best the pharmacy has to offer for Alzheimer’s Disease (Psychopharmacol 2010;207:637-43).

Depression
At least two small studies have shown that 30mg a day of saffron helps depression in people suffering from mild to moderate depression. 30mg a day taken for nine weeks has been shown to be as effective as the antidepressant drug imipramine for mild to moderate depression. Though not included in the review, the most important study of saffron and depression yet found that 15mg of saffron extract twice a day for eight weeks was as effective as Prozac (Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007;31:439-42). A study of people with mild to moderate depression who had undergone angioplasty for coronary artery disease also found that saffron worked as well as Prozac with slightly more responders (Phytother Res 2014;28172-8). Also not mentioned in the review are two meta-analyses of saffron and depression: one of five double-blind studies that found a large effect for saffron versus placebo (J Integr Med 2013;11:377-83)  and one that included five double-blind studies that found that the effectiveness of saffron is comparable to drugs (Hum Psychopharmacol Clin Exp 2014;29:517-27).

Eye Health

A small study found that saffron helps people with age-related macular degeneration. Though not included in the review, 30mg a day of saffron has also been shown to benefit people with glaucoma.

Reproductive Health
30mg a day of saffron has been shown to significantly improve PMS. Two small studies have shown that saffron can reduce sexual dysfunction caused by Prozac in both men and women. Though not included in the review, research has also shown that saffron can help erectile dysfunction (Phytomed 2009;16:690-3) as can a topical saffron gel significantly improves erectile dysfunction.

Heart Health
Studies have shown that saffron can benefit cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with high blood pressure and diabetes and that 50mg a day significantly reduces the dangerous oxidation of cholesterol in both healthy people and in people with coronary artery disease.

Exercise
Though not included in the review, saffron also helps reduce the pain felt on the days after strenuous exercise.


Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2015; [epub ahead of print] doi:10.1080/10408398.2013.879467

 


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