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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    See the corresponding blog post, Natural Alzheimer’s treatment, and leave any questions you have about this exciting research below. In tomorrow’s video-of-the-day, saffron is pitted against one of the leading Alzheimer’s drug treatments.

  • hermanzaum

    By looking at the numbers, I would guess it’s related to something we introduced in our environment, water or food supply in the last 30~50 years.
    While it’s great to know that we have a natural treatment, it’s imperative that we keep searching (and very hard at that!) for the real causes behind Alzheimer’s disease. I’m very concerned about the subject as my uncle passed away last month from Alzheimer’s.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      I absolutely agree. It’s something that I will make sure to keep covering. See Dietary Theory of Alzheimer’s for one such theory.

      • hermanzaum

        Thanks a lot Dr. Greger! I’ll it check out.

    • couriouse

      I belive the cjd is the culprate for altzimers as it seems to have rased its ugly head at the time the farming industry finaly admited it had a problem with cjd but the governments decided that it must debunk the incidents of cjd in the developed world, just what caused cjd in cattle??? and what was the trigger for the outbreak of cjd and for how long was this condition in cattle??? and when was it realy identified if this was disclosed then we could back track and isolate the trigger and maybe reverse the problem but was it introduced wilfully to rid society of a rising aged population that governments could see as a burdon on the finances of countries and once there is a balance of young to aged then will these governments suddenly find a treatment ?????

      • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

        “I’m NOT Senile…I have Mad Cow Disease!”

        -Denny Crain

  • MsAdventuress

    Love, love, love this. It continues to make the startling revelation that animal products are the cigarettes we never knew we were smoking. ♥

    • Toxins

      You should make this into a quote, i really like that “Animal products are the cigarettes we never knew we were smoking.”

  • So if Alzheimer’s started to escalate in 1980, what does this co-incide with? CJD and prions maybe? Environmental or viral factors? It is great that saffron helps, but something is affecting the population in the first place that wasn’t around before. This is very interesting.
    It can’t just be eating meat, dairy, eggs because people were eating all these things long before the 1980s. Is it the way food is processed now and the increase in fast food consumption, pesticides?
    I do hope there is much more research on this subject.

    • István Heimer

      is this suggesting to you that eating maybe organic meat, dairy and eggs may not be so harmful after all?

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        I don’t see that suggestion.

    • sf_jeff

      Um, Reagan? “Government isn’t the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.” – Ronald Reagan

  • This is very interesting to me, as I work in home health care and hospice, often with Patients diagnosed with dementia. It’s sad how little the medical community focuses on diet and nutrition when it comes to disease and overall health. This is definitely a topic I’ll continue to follow up on. Thank you!

  • The only possible downside I see to this might be the cost, verified by the wikipedia entry: saffron is “the world’s most expensive spice by weight”. As per the info on the graph in this video, 30 mg/day is the dose. I can buy 1 Gm on for a little under 20 bucks. This would provide about 33 doses. I’m sure that’s cheaper than Aricept!

  • eileenmcv

    What is the recommended amount of saffron one should consume on a daily basis for it to be considered theraputic in the prevention of AD?

  • Mike Quinoa

    The top “Sources Cited” link is dead. Here is the study summary:

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thanks Mike–fixed!

  • rcaiken

    Terrific work here and throughout your site!

    I think there could be a “bean counting” effect here (no pun) in that small changes in the way in which one interrupts causes of death could influence these numbers – how does one actually die of Alzheimer’s – there are usually so many physical complications happening, death of a person with Alzheimer’s could potentially be placed under a number of categories. What could affect categorization? Alzheimer’s awareness, great funding needs for study of this terrible disease, political-legal reasons (if one dies of pneumonia for example, it could be the physician’s or hospital’s “fault”, right?)

    Then of course the population overall is getting older so naturally the rate of death per 100,000 people is “favoring” deaths of the aged. The logarithmic ordinate in the video is somewhat misleading in that the top three or four causes of death are so much larger, that a slight decrease in them has to be made up by some other category in the top ten (as the overall death rate is rather similar). I noted that “influenza and pneumonia” dropped down the most of any category (8.5% 2009 to 2010 by the latest CDC info from January 11, 2012 ) so I wonder perhaps if some of those deaths now appear as “Alzheimer’s”).

    What surprised me in that recent CDC data were the differences in causes of death by sex. Alzheimer’s is #3 for women and #10 for males – again an artifact of the difference in the age distributions? (Parenthetically incredibly #3 cause of death in males are accidents and #7 suicide across all age groups – anyone know dietary effects to reduce those categories?)

    So I don’t see convincing evidence that the disease process of Alzheimer’s is somehow accelerating by some new mechanism but certainly this is one common insidious devastating disease effecting patient and extended family without known cause or cure that needs a lot more attention.

    • rcaiken

      To illustrate the effect of “bean counting” on disease data, recently revised guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease would reclassify nearly all patients who are currently diagnosed with mild or very mild Alzheimer’s as having “mild cognitive impairment”, a new study finds announced this morning by TIME magazine’s Healthland: So if you see numbers in the near future with Alzheimer’s disease essentially eradicated, it wasn’t necessarily a result of saffron mania.

  • rcaiken

    A recent 2011 study ( ) shows, in vitro and in vivo (mice), it’s the antioxidant properties (rather than acetylcholine acetylhydrolase inhibition) of saffron that has the cognitive enhancing effect; crocetin, a crocin metabolite in saffron, appears to be a unique and potent antioxidant capable of combating oxidative stress.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Alzheimer’s Disease: Up to half of cases potentially preventable!

  • Dorothy

    Thanks for sharing this video. My mom reacted badly with Aricept, hence I have been looking for alternatives. This is a good lead. Would you know how much saffron to provide therapeutic value for people with dementia? Thanks!

    • Lynn

      Dorothy, have you tried Namenda for your mother? It has helped my mom, who no longer benefits from Aricept.

  • Elley77

    I love spices

  • Sebastian Tristan

    Does Saffron prevent Alzheimer? Does Saffron have any side effects?

  • fineartmarcella

    Most saffron comes in the tiny dried sprigs from the flower, any idea how many of those I should add to my mother’s smoothie?

  • fineartmarcella

    Ok, they toke 30mg / day in two divided (15mg) doses. A gram (1,000mg)
    of Saffron than would have 33 doses. I believe that works out to 10
    threads/dose of Saffron, or 5 threads twice a day. Does anyone else
    agree, can confirm, or have a better number?

  • Thanks for another great one! Yup, in addition to my mom, aunt and both sisters with breast cancer, and most all adults with heart disease and diabetes, Alzheimer’s was the cause of death for my mom and grandma, and though other cousins/uncles were diagnosed, they didn’t actually die from the disease. All while I have placed in 65 5K or longer races since ’06, 7th in the US in age group in 1500 meters. Go plants! All these dots are so connected, aren’t they?

  • Bob Carlile

    I want to buy saffron capsules or tablets. Could you give me a good recommendation of the best ones to get?

  • Arjan den Hollander.

    There should be a average age of death line in there also. Yes the line goes up but so does the average life expectancy.
    There is a chance of diagnoses problem in that graph too. That sharp rise in between 1979 and 1986 is a result of a physician re-education campaign rather than a actual rise in true numbers.
    If one considers part of the rise after 1986 explained by longer life, and we ignore the diagnoses redefinition bumps in 1998 and the rise from 1979-1986, we are left with a markedly less frightening rise in true numbers from causes other than just higher median age of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
    All that remains is just a very flat and moderate rise if any.

  • Kathy

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but if I want to use saffron threads to prevent dementia, exactly how do it I do it? Crush it? drink as tea? hide in a smoothie? or in hummus? Help!! What’s the “right” way to take 13 threads of it per day?
    Thanks everyone!

    • Thea

      Kathy: I’m no expert, but if I had to guess, I would think that the whole thread would be better than a drink made from the threads. In other words, it seems to me that any of your ideas, except the one about tea, would be perfectly good. ??? Just guessing.

      • Allan Wood

        Thea, I put Saffron threads in cold water with a tea bag and some lemon. Why is putting Saffron threads in tea a bad idea ?

        • Thea

          Allan: I did not mean to say that a saffron tea is a bad idea. What I was trying to say is that if you could choose between a saffron tea and consuming the whole thread, then consuming the whole thread is likely to be better for you. I don’t know this as a fact, but am basing this on other examples and theories. For example, most people generally recognize that whole oranges are good for you, but orange juice, maybe not as much. Green tea is good for you for sure, but not as good as consuming the whole leaves (according to one NutritionFacts video if I remember correctly). The theory is that when you eat a whole food, you generally get more nutrients than an extract, and a tea is an extract. Now, maybe the saffron tea would have all the good parts you need. I’m just saying that the whole thread would for sure have all the good parts. Hope that makes sense. As I said, “I’m not experts, but if I had to guess…” :-)

  • cookie

    Did anyone else notice this study was done in Tehran (Iran is the largest producer of saffron)

    • Elaine Guillermin

      good observation. But drug studies are done by pharmaceutical companies who produce the drugs they are studying. just sayin’

  • Dave Erickson

    What about polio vaccine? Timeline is there…..

    • For folks interesting in reading about Alzheimer’s I recommend Neal Barnard’s book, Power Foods for the Brain. It looks like a nutritional disease with some metals thrown in. Given the numbers and expense I’m sure there will be many studies coming out so you need to make sure you are subscribed to for the latest studies.

      • Wilma Laura Wiggins

        I wonder how much trans fats have to do with it. It seems like it was around 30-50 years ago that low fat dairy was being advocated along with margarine instead of butter. Crisco (remember that stuff?) was very popular. When did homogenizing milk become main stream? I havent touched homogenized or hydralized or anything with a h for many many years – long before I became vegan. If I were going to use milk or milk products (which I am not) it would be whole (not fat lowered) and not homogenized and of course organic. About the only place you could get that would be in a health food store or possibly from a farmer.

  • Lee

    Dr. Greger, regarding Saffron, I don’t know if you have reviewed this study yet from 2014 regarding Saffron’s carotenoids’ effectivness against prostate cancer cells in an ‘in vivo’ mouse model?

  • working at it

    Question about saffron: Several years ago my elderly mother was on Aricept when we learned about saffron from Dr. Greger. We switched her to 2 15 mg doses per day, and she has been doing well on it. However, the last year or so, the product we were using has been unavailable. Now what I mostly find is “saffron extract” or “satiereal saffron extract” instead of whole saffron. Apparently Dr. Oz touted this as a weight lose product, and so now that is what is produced mostly; am not sure if this is a reasonable substitute for whole saffron. My Mom is unable to pick up and take whole stamens, it really helps her to have it in pill form. The version that came closest to what we were using is “Full Spectrum saffron 15 mg” but my confidence in it is not high; it is mostly a grey powder with some specks of yellow-orange. It’s hard to know what to trust; my Mom’s cognitive abilities are suddenly declining rapidly, and so am looking for a trustworthy product. Use “saffron extract”? Keep using the product she is on? Use something else?
    Any help appreciated! Thank you so much.

    • Thea

      working at it: I can’t speculate about whole vs extract when it comes to saffron. But I have an idea for you: If you want to give your mom whole saffron, but in pill form, you can make your own pills. There are some cool “machines” that let you do it. I was thinking that you could buy whole saffron, grind it up to make a powder, and then put it in the pills. Just an idea.

      Here’s an example of a machine that is affordable and which someone I know really likes. You will want to research pill sizes before you purchase. This brand comes in 3 sizes.

      Hope that helps!

      • David

        Link broken.

        • Thea

          David: Darn. It looks like that one isn’t sold any more. Hopefully there are others still out there. Thanks for the info.

  • stphnlsn

    Stephanie Nelson

    Apr 7, 5:30 PM

    Since sugar is what cancer cells use for food is eating white potatoes and rice (which become sugar because they are starch/carbohydrate) a bad idea? Does the type of sugar they become increase cancer cells?

  • Dshehan

    Dr, A friend steered me to your videos about saffron in treatment of Alzheimers…my wife has AD – I am very impressed with the results of the studies you site. What would be a good way to deliver the Saffron to my wife on a regular basis; ie, how much to give her and in what form? Also wanted to point out that in the graph you showed about the rather sudden appearance and increasing rate of fatality with AD it occurred to me that AD is effecting Baby Boomers at a much greater rate than any other age group. Is this true? Also one possible explanation for the sharp growth track of AD is that Baby Boomers are from a spread over about 20 years (’48 through ’68?) and as the latter born transition into their 70’s the AD is catching up with them. So it appears as if there is a skew in that regard…maybe? Have there been any AD studies that look for rate of occurrence in say the front half vs the back half of that generation or in subjects of the preceding generation? This might help in determining some real factors explaining the rather sudden appearance of AD.

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Hi Dshehan, Thanks for your questions. The group was taking 30mg or Saffron capsules daily for 16 weeks. Have you seen Dr. Greger’s videos on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). ? Dr. Greger might cover more on AD statistics in his longer videos on AD. See if those help and let me know if you run into further questions.

  • jhk

    Is the saffron that the video talks about regarding helping with Alzheimer’s Disease the same saffron that can be bought in capsules that is used for hunger control or is there another saffron that is being discussed?

  • Nofatn Flab

    If someone doesn’t like any foods with saffron will it work as well, or almost as well, in pill form?

  • Eugene Steele

    The third cause of death in the United States is Doctors – You seem to have left that out

  • Sharon Florence

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    For more details:
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  • thaddeusbuttmunchmd

    I’m a physician. Regional Differences are CRUCIAL in understanding Any Disease. Osler said “Ask Not what Disease the patient has but what patient the Disease has.” That’s DEEP! In a US Map of Alzheimer’s, North Dakota and Washington State have a VERY High Rate. Nevada and Florida are low. New York State is Low, but, both Maine and Pennsylvania are much Higher. What can we take Away from this?? Well, Vitamin D from Sunlight Exposure is thought to be protective against Alzheimer’s (and Many Internal Cancers. Ironic that “Melanoma Risk” is scaring folks Away.) In Seattle it rains all the time. They have a High Rate. But, Blacks and Hispanics are Also at much higher risk (probably due to Diabetes and Hypertension) yet Texas has a low incidence of AD. Another Elephant in the Room is Obesity. States like Mississippi Louisiana and South Carolina (The “Stroke Belt”) also have High AD Prevalence. SO:

    1. Exercise
    2. Sunlight
    3. Healthy eating. But what is Healthy?? I think the Nordic (Fish and Fruit) and Mediterranean (Fish and Olive Oil) are Safe Bets for a healthy Diet.

    • Thea

      thaddeusbuttmunchmd: You wrote: “But what is Healthy?? I think the Nordic (Fish and Fruit) and
      Mediterranean (Fish and Olive Oil) are Safe Bets for a healthy Diet.”
      I agree that the devil is in the details. What *is* a healthy diet? This site would agree with you on the fruit. However, there is some pretty compelling information on this site which contradicts your beliefs.
      * For the Mediterranean diet and olive oil, check out: For
      * For fish:
      Dr. Greger has done a lot of research into what counts as a healthy diet. If you get a chance to read his book How Not To Die, I think you would find it a good use of your time. Part 1 of the book covers the science and Part 2 details what all that science boils down to in terms of a healthy diet. If you are only interested in the second part, you might do some research on the Daily Dozen.
      If the book doesn’t interest you, but you would be interested in a 1 hour top level summary of some of the data, you might check out Dr. Greger’s latest summary talk, available for free here: