Could Saffron be the missing piece in side effect free mental health treatment ?
If you’ve ever worked in psychiatric care, or if you have a mental issue or know someone suffering from a mental issue then you know that the drugs that we use for mental treatment today, is everything but safe and free of side effects.
Because of this it’s been a long time hope to find a safe way to keep those mental issues under control. From the study mentioned in the previous article Inflammation Linked To Mental Illness we now know, that there’s a definite link between inflammation and mental health.
We’ve seen links between anti inflammatory diet components, such as fish oil and/or high dosages of antioxidants, which has been reported to be mood enhancers. Now thanks to the study by Boston Children’s Hospital we know why it works – Because mental illness is caused by inflammation in the brain.
With an ORAC value of 20,580 ( ORAC is an international scale used to measure the antioxidant capacity of food) compared to apples with 17,933 , Reishi Mushroom with 9,244 , Cranberries with 9,090 or red wine with 4,523 – Saffron becomes highly interesting, not only as an anti inflammatory agent but also in the perspective of mental illness.
if we look towards history then Saffron has been used in traditional medicine as a calmative and antidepressant agent. The herb is also known to be relaxing the muscles in the digestive tract which helps the digestive process and enhance appetite.
But one thing is what is believed to be true by traditional medicine, or people using specific diets or herbs and report that they feel better – another thing is science , so where is the science ? Is all this make-believe or does it have any scientific validity ?
Iranian Hassein Hasseinzadeh, has done a vast number of studies on Saffron and mice that has shown increased mobility, enhanced erectile function and antidepressant like effects of Saffron. So these studies actually supports that Saffron can have an effect on mood.
But then how do humans react to Saffron ? Another Iranian study lead by S. Akhondzadeh showed a significantly higher effect on mild to moderate depression from Saffron compared to Placebo in a double blinded trial. Another study by the same research group ( also double blinded) proved similar effects of Saffron compared to Prozac.
A review study from 2015 concluded good effects of Saffron in treating depression as well as Alzheimers, where Saffron showed same effect as Donepezil but without the vomiting side effects.
Another review study from 2013 concluded the same “Saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with MDD” (MDD = Major depressive disorder”).
So what does this mean ? Well it does not mean that if you are diagnosed with a mental disorder you should throw away your medicine and start cooking with Saffron. It also does not mean that you should throw away your medicine and use a Saffron supplement instead – at least not without consulting your doctor.
However it does mean that it would make sense to supplement your conventional medication with a Saffron supplement. It also means that if you are one of the vast majority of people who suffers from periodic depression then it would make sense to use a Saffron supplement as a prevention measure. The same goes for those who lives stressful lifes – as stress often leads to depression.
It also means that these studies brings hope that in time we can come up with a safe and natural way of controlling mood and mental challenges.
So which supplement should you use ? There’s a number of choices, and I myself has been one of those suffering from a damaging depression, but has overcome it , with the help of among others a Saffron supplement. In the next two articles I will go in-depth with my personal story and choices along the way.
Further Reading and source material :
Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial.
The effects of CrTocus sativus (saffron) and its constituents on nervous system: A review
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials.
Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.