Saffron extract benefits may play an important role in supporting depression naturally with fewer side effects.
According to estimates, a staggering 21% of individuals in developed countries will face depression at some juncture in their lives.
As a practitioner of functional medicine, I have always leaned towards holistic approaches to such issues. One such intriguing solution is the potential of saffron extract, known for its active constituent, crocin.
Saffron, primarily known as a luxurious spice, hides within it potent compounds beneficial for brain health. Westerners, like us in the United States, consume saffron less than other parts of the world – particularly the active extract.
Crocin, its main constituent, has recently been the subject of multiple studies investigating its potential in combating depressive symptoms.
Benefits of Saffron Extract
A well-structured 6-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated the remarkable potential of saffron extract. Participants, all diagnosed with mild to moderate depression, received a daily dosage of 30mg of saffron extract.
The promise of saffron extract doesn’t end there.
Another trial combined saffron extract with SSRI treatment to observe its efficacy against generalized anxiety disorder. Astoundingly, the group receiving crocin exhibited superior results compared to both the SSRI and placebo groups (3).
Further studies have echoed these findings. Multiple trials, ranging from four to eight weeks, revealed that saffron extract can yield significant improvements in depression symptoms.
One particularly insightful study used a daily dosage of 28mg of saffron extract across a span of 4 weeks. The results?
Enhanced mood, decreased anxiety levels, and better stress management — all achieved without adverse side effects (7).
Saffron Extract: A Natural Antidepressant?
Perhaps one of the most groundbreaking revelations comes from studies comparing the effects of saffron extract with widely prescribed antidepressant medications.
Side effects were also lower with saffron extract.
Postpartum mothers, a group especially vulnerable to depression, also found relief with saffron. A study focusing on mothers with mild to moderate postpartum depression revealed significant improvements after six weeks of saffron treatment (11).
Furthermore, for individuals suffering from depression complicated by other health issues, such as coronary artery disease, saffron extract could be a beacon of hope. A clinical trial indicated that saffron extract, taken at 30mg per day, not only ameliorated depression but also improved the overall quality of life in these patients (12).
Saffron Benefits Beyond Depression
Expanding its sphere of benefits, saffron has also shown promise for post-menopausal women. A study revealed that a 15mg dosage of saffron, taken twice a day, effectively reduced both hot flashes and depressive symptoms when compared to a placebo (13).
Putting Together the Benefits of Saffron Extract
For those skeptical about individual studies, a meta-analysis investigating saffron’s role in depression treatment came to a reassuring conclusion. The cumulative data from various studies underscored that saffron extract could improve depressive symptoms at levels akin to conventional medications but without the typical adverse effects (14).
Saffron extract, with its potent compound crocin, offers a promising and natural approach to addressing the rising challenge of depression.
When dealing with depression symptoms, check with your natural health provider on what’s best for you.
Best Saffron Supplement
When I use saffron extract, I like Neurologix by Integrative Therapeutics. It comes in a 28-capsule 7 to 14-day trial bottle as well as a 120-capsule bottle for ongoing support.
Two capsules comprise 14mg of saffron extract, so to get equal or close to the amounts used in the studies above, take two capsules twice a day (4 total capsules).
Neurologix also contains citicoline, a highly-regarded source of choline known to support focus and brain performance, vitamin B6 – an important cofactor to neurotransmitter production, and a researched spearmint extract also regarded for brain health due to its high rosmarinic acid content and other constituents.
Try it for yourself and save 20% using the code “focus20”.
Studies most commonly use two capsules taken twice a day over 4 to 8-week durations.
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