What is Saffron?
Saffron comes from the crocus sativus flower– a relative of the iris. Farmers painstakingly hand-harvest the dark red filament in the pistil and dry it to make the spice saffron.
Saffron is mostly like found in the spice section in the grocery store or at specialty markets. Typically, manufacturers wrap the delicate threads in dark paper or plastic before putting it in the jar to protect it from damage. Saffron stays fresh for years if kept in a dark, well-sealed container.
What are the medicinal benefits of saffron?
1. Appetite suppressant/weight loss
Saffron could help cut down the habit of snacking more than the normal. Supplementing with saffron made rats eat less, and researchers saw the same thing in human studies. After taking one capsule a day (176.5 mg of extract), women lost more weight than women who were taking a placebo. Which means that saffron suppresses appetite.
2. Mood Booster
Treating depression with medicine often leaves people frustrated and sometimes much worse than they started. There’s a lot of trial and error involved before you and your doctor finds the right treatment method. Efficacy varies from each person, but all come with a list of side effects that nobody wants– loss of libido, weight gain, mania, and more. Saffron might offer a natural alternative to pills, although it needs more research.
A handful of studies look promising. Studies, where participants supplemented with 30 mg of saffron per day and 50 mg of saffron per day both, showed that saffron reduced depression and anxiety. Further trials showed that 30 mg per day is sufficient to reduce symptoms of depression including post-partum depression.
The antidepressant effects of saffron were compared alongside with commonly prescribed antidepressant medications. Researchers found that saffron is as effective in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate depression as imipramine (Tofranil) without the dry mouth and sedation that comes with the prescription. Studies showed similar effects with fluoxetine (Prozac).
3. Saffron may relieve PMS
While women would reach for chocolate and salt when during the period, research shows saffron might be the better food for PMS relief. Studies show women took 15 mg twice a day of saffron or a placebo and filled out a daily symptom report as well as the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a diagnostic tool for depression. The women on saffron showed reduced or eliminated both physical and emotional PMS symptoms and reduced depressive symptoms as compared to the women on placebo.
Researchers suspect that a lot of PMS symptoms result from disrupted serotonin at certain points in the monthly cycle, and saffron stimulates the production of serotonin.
4. Enhances Brain Function
Researchers have shown that crocin, the active component of saffron, keeps your brain cells sharp and young. It protects because of its antioxidant action. Gaining free radicals keep the immune response in working order, which protects healthy cells from attack. It also reduces inflammation in the brain and inhibits certain markers of Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder.
Side effects of saffron
Saffron is generally tolerable, but could still experience side effects, like:
- Dry mouth
- Exacerbated asthma
- Impulsive behavior, mania.
- Saffron poisoning (extremely high doses).
To minimize the risk of side effects, always consult your doctor before using Saffron.
How to get saffron?
Look for saffron in a liquid extract or in capsules if you want to attain the full benefits. Since saffron is so expensive on its own, it is commonly found as one of several synergistic ingredients in focus or mood blends, such as Zen Mode.
When choosing supplements, it’s hard to gauge what will work best. The best way to get the result is to start with eating nourishing, satisfying foods, getting good sleep, and keeping the stress level to a minimum. A targeted regimen of supplements will take you to the next level once the healthy habits are in place.
Saffron showed reduced or eliminated both physical and emotional PMS symptoms and decreased depressive symptoms as compared to the women on placebo.
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