Saffron: A Promising New Find

You might have had or heard of saffron being used in many Mediterranean and Asian cooking, especially in rice to add the yellow colour and flavour. But did you know it has been used as a therapeutic drug to help with:

  • coughs
  • infertility
  • depression
  • anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing)
  • anti-mutagenic (mutation-preventing)
  • relieve stomachaches
  • ease the pain of kidney stones

It is one of the most expensive herbs. I bought mine at WholeFoods for $15 for 1 gram. You might be thinking 1 gram? That’s like nothing! But the stigmas are fairly light so you do get couple hundred of them, and depending where you buy them, the quality may be different.

In one study, 38 participants were given either 30 mg of saffron (standardized to contain about 0.7 mg of safranal) or 20 mg of fluoxetine (Prozak) per day for 6 weeks (another study was done for 8 weeks).

At the end of the study, both groups showed significant improvements in depressive symptoms, with no difference in the amount of improvement between the two groups! The frequency of side effects was similar in the two groups; however, the good news is that there were no reports of sexual dysfunction, tremor, or sweating in the saffron group.

It is thought that like fluoxetine, saffron helps to increase the levels of serotonin (the chemical released in our brain to make us feel good or happy). While the findings are promising and exciting, further studies are needed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of saffron as an alternative to fluoxetine .

References from Alive Magazine
Wikepedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffron
eHow – http://www.ehow.com/facts_7149614_saffron-toxic_.html
Bastyr Center for Natural Health – http://bastyrcenter.org/content/view/687/

WARNING: As with anything, overdose can be harmful, even fatal. Do not consume more than 10 grams of saffron in one dose. There are no reports that it is toxic when used for culinary purposes.

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