I’m just mad about saffron and saffron’s mad about me. –Mellow Yellow by Donovan
A new review of 6 randomized, controlled trials found that the spice, saffron, was as effective for treating depression as Prozac and Tofranil. The sample sizes of the studies are small but the results are tremendously promising insofar as study participants using saffron as an anti-depressant do not appear to suffer from the side effects that are common to pharmaceuticals, such as sleepiness, constipation and sexual problems. According to Dr. Adrian Lopresti, the lead author of the study, “Saffron has had a number of really well designed, robust studies investigating its antidepressant properties and pretty much all the studies have been positive.”
Why does saffron work? According to Lopresti, “What’s been found in the literature over the last ten years is that people with depression have high levels of inflammation and free radical damage associated with oxidative stress. That led to interesting work looking into antioxidants and anti-inflammatories as antidepressants” It turns, saffron has both strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties which enables it to have a potentially powerful impact on the physiological symptoms of depression; the aches, the lethargy, the feelings of sluggishness.
According to the study, the effective dose appears to be 15mg twice daily and results are usually apparent wishing 6-8 weeks. There needs to be much more research done with much larger sample sizes before we can say whether saffron could be a consistently effective treatment for depression but early results are very encouraging.