Saffron for Depression: Our Verdict and Favorite Products
When I think of saffron, I think of two things: its characteristic yellow color when used in food, particularly Moroccan cooking, and the stereotype that, by weight, saffron is more expensive than gold.
However, as well as the fact that it can be expensive, and that it is often used in delicious cuisine, saffron has been found to have an amazing added bonus: it is said to be extremely effective at treating depression.
Saffron is a spice taken from the flower of the saffron crocus. These vivid colored threads are then dried and used in food and in other applications, often for their characteristic color.
The research evidence is promising, with many studies outlining that in particular the stigma of a saffron plant and its petals can have a positive effect on mood, and that saffron can be extremely effective in treating depression and anxiety, perhaps more effective than many users would initially dare to hope.
Studies on animals fore example have shown that it may have an anti-depressant effect by balancing the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin.
Likewise, studies with human participants have shown positive results on anxiety and depression. For example, one double blind study conducted in Iran tested the efficacy of Saffron against Prozac, and the results clearly showed that it was as effective as the infamous pharmaceutical.
A comparison with another less well-known anti-depressants found that saffron was even more effective, particularly when the measurement tool was the Hamilton Depression scale, a widely used mood-measurement questionnaire.
Others have also celebrated the findings of this research, and have used it to justify the usage and promotion of saffron as a treatment for anxiety and depression. The National Institute of Health also found Saffron has properties and effects similar to popular pharmaceutical anti-depressants, though with much fewer side effects.
However, there is some reason to be cautious. First of all, the claims themselves are sufficiently sensationalist to engender some dubiousness.
Next, many of the studies cited in praise of saffron actually hail from a single research center in Iran, which means that they data can perhaps not be generalized effectively.
As well as this, further research that tested the effect of saffron combined with curcumin was less conclusive, and therefore some would advise caution.
Our Favorite Saffron Supplements to Help Reduce Depression:
100% Pure Saffron Extract
Very popular choice
Saffron Extract 8825 (Vegetarian)
Life Extension Optimized Saffron
What's an Effective Dose of Saffron for Depression?
Though the research is ongoing that could unequivocally guide dosage of saffron, clinical trials have investigated a dosage of 30mg taken in 2 divided doses in order to treat anxiety, depression and PMT, so this seems like a safe bet.
It is, though, pretty hard to take too much saffron, as toxic effects have only been reported upwards of 5g.
However, more important perhaps than dosage is quality. For example, when supplementing, the extraction method is important, as this influences the levels of the key active components, which are able to bind to the nerve receptors that are responsible for depression and play a key role in its efficacy.
What are the Recommended Saffron Supplements for Depression?
100% Pure Saffron Extract - Standardized to .3% Safranal plus Full Spectrum - 60 Caps, 88.25 mg
This product purports to be completely pure saffron, and as such it contains all of the benefits of the natural plant. Most were pretty happy with the performance of this product. Some of the main pluses of this product are;
- Helps with depression
- Improves vision
- Helps to reduce cravings
- Helps improve sleep
One customer said that they had bought this supplement for their husband due to them suffering from depression for a number of years. Saffron, combined with a couple of other supplements, made him much more relaxed.
By process of elimination, they realized that their husband’s mood was worse when they had run out of saffron. They also noted that they had chosen this supplement because it is said to aid in the prevention of Alzheimer’s symptoms, and their husband was at a high risk of developing this disorder.
Another customer says that saffron helped them to maintain their mood, and also helped them to reduce their cravings for food. They thus lost weight without even working out, which may seem like a godsend to some of you!
Saffron Extract 8825 (Vegetarian) - 88.5 mg per Capsule
This supplement is marketed as an appetite suppressant, but many have begun to use it as a supplement to reduce depression, and most users have given it positive reviews, and they have particularly enjoyed the fact that it;
- Is effective at reducing anxiety
- Reduces cravings
- Increases energy
- Improved memory
One user of this produce said that they had started to take it because of their depression caused by inflammatory conditions, and they cited the studies that they had read about the efficacy of saffron. They also liked this product because it contained no gluten or other unhealthy ingredients.
They claim that after taking this produce they felt a marked difference in their mood, with no side effects, and they felt very strongly that we should reflect further on the pills that we take, particularly if they are prescription anti-depressants with known negative side effects.
Another user extols the virtues of the pill for reducing cravings. They initially took the supplement to control a gargantuan appetite, and, though they were dubious, the supplement reduced their cravings exponentially.
Life Extension Optimized Saffron with Satiereal, 60 Vegetarian Capsules
This produce is again marketed as an appetite suppressant, though they also focus upon the way in which saffron can maintain a positive mood. Reviews are generally pretty good, and they note that the supplement;
- Helps with depression
- Reduces food cravings (and this is a particular focus in the marketing for this product
- Helps to get more restful sleep
- Helps to reduce allergies
A user of this product again noted the research that they had read backing up the efficacy of the supplement. They wanted to try saffron before they used antidepressants (which they were recommended by their doctor). Though they were dubious, it worked. T
heir counselor recommended that they could reduce their sessions, and they saw a massive uplift in their mood, and they felt more calm after having taken it. However, they do caution that their case was a mild one. As well as this, they note that they had reduced food cravings, which, though many would be happy about, was an unwanted side-effect for them. If you do not want an appetite suppressant, then perhaps saffron is not for you.
Another user stated that they began to use saffron to reduce their food cravings and maintain their weight. However, they noticed another side effect: their family told them they looked much happier and more cheery.
They then realized that they felt a greater sense of well-being, and that their anxiety levels were greatly reduced. They also failed to become irritated easily, which they were prone to do before. All in all, this supplement had been a huge success for them.
In Summary: Saffron for Depression
So, it seems that saffron can have an amazing effect on depression, and can even be comparable in efficacy to pharmaceutical antidepressants, and this is without many of the nasty side effects associated with many of them.
As well as this, saffron can be used if you are struggling to maintain your diet, as saffron is a well-known appetite suppressant, and it also has countless other applications.
So, it makes sense, if you have struggled with depression to give saffron a try. And perhaps combine it with some delicious Moroccan cooking!