What Is Saffron Used for & What’s the Right Dose?

Saffron Dosage

Image Credit: Guillaume Paumier / Flickr

 

Saffron has long been used in Asia for various purposes. Here’s a look at some of the latest research on the spice.

 

What Is Saffron?

Saffron is the female reproductive organs of the saffron flower, which we can buy as a spice.

 

Why Is Saffron So Expensive?

Each flower just produces a few threads, such that you need 50,000 flowers to make a single pound of spice—enough flowers to fill a football field. So, no wonder it’s the most expensive spice in the world.

 

What Is Saffron Used for Medically?

 

Depression Treatment

A double blind, randomized trial: Saffron versus Prozac. For six weeks, 40 outpatients diagnosed with clinical depression got capsules containing the spice saffron—or, identical-looking capsules, containing Prozac.

Within just one week, there was a significant drop in depression symptoms that got better and better throughout the six weeks.

Sexual Dysfunction Treatment

As I discuss in my video Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction, saffron may not only work as well as SSRI antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft without the side effects, but it may even be able to treat the adverse sexual side effects that occur in up to 70 percent of people taking the drugs.

Slowing Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease Cognitive Impairment

Saffron works just as well as Aricept (a leading drug treatment for slowing Alzheimer’s impairment), without the side effects. Check out my video Saffron vs. Aricept.

Reduce PMS Symptoms

Saffron appears symptoms of premenstrual syndrome including

  • Mood (anxiety, irritability, depression, nervous tension, moods swings)
  • Behavior (poor coordination, insomnia, confusion, headache, crying, and fatigue)
  • Pain (aches, cramps, and tender breasts)
  • Other physical symptoms (cravings and swelling)

Learn more about the studies in my videos Saffron for the Treatment of PMS and Wake Up & Smell the Saffron.

Weight Loss Through Appetite Suppression

As explored in Benefits of Cumin and Saffron for Weight Loss, saffron has been found to lead to significant weight loss (five pounds more than placebo, and an extra inch off the waist in eight weeks), due to reduced calorie intake.

Other Health Benefits

There’s also research on saffron and infertility, cancerobesity, and erectile dysfunction. I’ll be rolling out more videos evaluating the latest science on spices and so make sure you’re subscribed to my videos and stay tuned!

 

What’s the Right Dose of Saffron?

The typical dose used in the studies of saffron versus Alzheimer’s, versus PMS, and versus depression was 30mg. Each flower yields 7mg dried saffron, and I think there are 3 stigmas per flower, so 30mg should be about 13 threads (which is typically how it’s sold in the store).  But even less may have a physiological effect (see Wake Up and Smell the Saffron).

 

Check out the saffron topic page for all videos on it.


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


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