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Saffron- More than just the world's most expensive spice.

Updated: Apr 23, 2023


Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly used in cooking due to its distinct flavour and aroma. However, saffron also offers several potential health benefits. Here are 10 benefits of saffron for health, supported by scientific research:

  1. Anti-inflammatory effects: Saffron contains several bioactive compounds, such as crocin and safranal, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that saffron extracts can reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the brain and digestive system. (Ref: Hosseinzadeh et al., 2015)

  2. Antidepressant effects: Some studies suggest that saffron may have antidepressant effects. For instance, a review of several studies found that saffron supplements were as effective as antidepressant medications for treating mild to moderate depression. (Ref: Hausenblas et al., 2013)

  3. Improved mood and cognitive function: In addition to its potential antidepressant effects, saffron may also improve mood and cognitive function. One study found that saffron supplements improved memory and attention in healthy adults. (Ref: Shafiee et al., 2018)

  4. Reduced PMS symptoms and menopausal hot flashes: Some studies suggest that saffron may help reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). For instance, a study of women with PMS found that saffron supplements reduced mood swings, irritability, and other symptoms. (Ref: Kashani et al., 2008, 2018)

  5. Lowered risk of heart disease: Saffron may also have cardiovascular benefits. For example, a study of people with metabolic syndrome found that saffron supplements improved several risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. (Ref: Asgary et al., 2018)

  6. Improved sexual function: Some studies suggest that saffron may improve sexual function in both men and women. For instance, a study of women with sexual dysfunction found that saffron supplements improved several aspects of sexual function, including arousal and lubrication. (Ref: Modabbernia et al., 2012)

  7. Anti-cancer effects: Saffron contains several compounds that may have anti-cancer effects. For example, some studies suggest that saffron extracts may inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the breast, lung, and other organs. (Ref: Amin et al., 2016)

  8. Improved insulin sensitivity: Saffron may also improve insulin sensitivity, which could benefit people with diabetes. For example, a study of people with type 2 diabetes found that saffron supplements improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels. (Ref: Yaribeygi et al., 2019)

  9. Reduced anxiety: Some studies suggest that saffron may have anxiolytic effects, meaning that it may reduce anxiety. For instance, a study of people with anxiety disorders found that saffron supplements were as effective as an anti-anxiety medication for reducing symptoms. (Ref: Shafiee et al., 2018)

  10. Improved vision: Saffron may also improve vision in some people. For example, a study of people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) found that saffron supplements improved visual acuity and other measures of visual function. (Ref: Bisti et al., 2014)

Overall, saffron appears to have several potential health benefits. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and the optimal dosage for different conditions.




References:

  • Amin, B., Hosseinzadeh, H., & Jalali, A. H. (2016). Effects of saffron and its constituents,

  • Amin B, Hosseinzadeh H. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of Crocus sativus L.(saffron). InBioactive nutraceuticals and dietary supplements in neurological and brain disease 2015 Jan 1 (pp. 319-324). Academic Press.

  • Hausenblas HA, Saha D, Dubyak PJ, Anton SD. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of integrative medicine. 2013 Nov 1;11(6):377-83.

  • Shafiee M, Arekhi S, Omranzadeh A, Sahebkar A. Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018 Feb 1;227:330-7.

  • Kashani L, Esalatmanesh S, Eftekhari F, Salimi S, Foroughifar T, Etesam F, Safiaghdam H, Moazen-Zadeh E, Akhondzadeh S. Efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) in treatment of major depressive disorder associated with post-menopausal hot flashes: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Archives of gynecology and obstetrics. 2018 Mar;297:717-24.

  • Agha‐Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, Ghoreishi A, Rahmanpour HA, Zarrinara AR, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L.(saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double‐blind, randomised and placebo‐controlled trial. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 2008 Mar;115(4):515-9.

  • Asgary S, Rastqar A, Keshvari M. Functional food and cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment: a review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2018 Jul 4;37(5):429-55.

  • 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. 2012 Oct;223:381-8.

  • Amin A, A Hamza A, Daoud S, Khazanehdari K, Al Hrout A, Baig B, Chaiboonchoe A, E Adrian T, Zaki N, Salehi-Ashtiani K. Saffron-based crocin prevents early lesions of liver cancer: in vivo, in vitro and network analyses. Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery. 2016 Feb 1;11(1):121-33.

  • Yaribeygi H, Zare V, Butler AE, Barreto GE, Sahebkar A. Antidiabetic potential of saffron and its active constituents. Journal of cellular physiology. 2019 Jun;234(6):8610-7.

  • Shafiee M, Arekhi S, Omranzadeh A, Sahebkar A. Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018 Feb 1;227:330-7.

  • Bisti S, Maccarone R, Falsini B. Saffron and retina: Neuroprotection and pharmacokinetics. Visual Neuroscience. 2014 Sep;31(4-5):355-61.

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