Wake Up & Smell the Saffron

Wake Up & Smell the Saffron
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Even the scent of the spice saffron may reduce stress hormone levels, and ease the psychological symptoms of PMS.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The spice saffron is composed of the female reproductive organs of the flower of the saffron crocus. 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.

Thankfully, in the double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial of the efficacy of saffron on PMS, they found benefits using just a tiny amount. What if you could get away with using even less, though?

This has to be one of the wildest studies I saw published last year: the “[P]sychological and neuroendocrinological effects of [the] odor of saffron.” I don’t even know how they even thought up the idea to do the study. “The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of saffron odor on symptoms unique to women, such as premenstrual syndrome,…menstrual pain…, and irregular menstruation.”

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study. How do you blind a smell study, though? Well, they diluted the saffron so much that you couldn’t even smell it any more. That’s how little they used. So, half the women sat there smelling nothing, and the other half sat there smelling nothing—except they were secretly being given an undetectable whiff of this flower.

And here you go. Significant drop in stress hormone levels, and a significant improvement in psychological symptoms. Unbelievable. “Smelling saffron… is simple and easy, and it seems [that] there is little side effect.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Serpico via Wikimedia and m-bot via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The spice saffron is composed of the female reproductive organs of the flower of the saffron crocus. 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.

Thankfully, in the double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial of the efficacy of saffron on PMS, they found benefits using just a tiny amount. What if you could get away with using even less, though?

This has to be one of the wildest studies I saw published last year: the “[P]sychological and neuroendocrinological effects of [the] odor of saffron.” I don’t even know how they even thought up the idea to do the study. “The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of saffron odor on symptoms unique to women, such as premenstrual syndrome,…menstrual pain…, and irregular menstruation.”

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study. How do you blind a smell study, though? Well, they diluted the saffron so much that you couldn’t even smell it any more. That’s how little they used. So, half the women sat there smelling nothing, and the other half sat there smelling nothing—except they were secretly being given an undetectable whiff of this flower.

And here you go. Significant drop in stress hormone levels, and a significant improvement in psychological symptoms. Unbelievable. “Smelling saffron… is simple and easy, and it seems [that] there is little side effect.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Serpico via Wikimedia and m-bot via flickr

Doctor's Note

How’s that study for the Power Plants? Works if you eat the stuff too; see Saffron for the Treatment of PMS. For more flower power, see my blog post Hibiscus tea: flower power, and videos on both hibiscus tea (Better Than Green Tea) and chamomile tea (Red Tea, Honeybush, & Chamomile and Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy). And hey, broccoli florets are just clusters of flower buds. See The Best DetoxBroccoli vs. Breast Cancer Stem Cells, and, of course, my other other videos on broccoli. If saffron has such powerful psychological and neuroendocrinological effects, how might it stack up against drugs in the treatment of depression? Find out next, in Saffron vs. Prozac.

For additional context, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Treating PMS with SaffronHibiscus Tea: The Best Beverage?; and Treating Breast Pain with Diet

Update: In summer 2017, I did a few new videos on saffron that might interest you: Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction and Saffron for Erectile Dysfunction.  

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

 

18 responses to “Wake Up & Smell the Saffron

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  1. How’s that study for the Power of Plants? Works if you eat the stuff too—see yesterday’s video-of-the-day Saffron for the Treatment of PMS. For more flower power see my blog and videos on hibiscus tea (Better Than Green Tea) and chamomile tea (Red Tea, Honeybush, & Chamomile and Chamomile Tea May Not Be Safe During Pregnancy). And hey, broccoli florets are just clusters of flower buds. See The Best Detox, Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells, and 26 other broccoli videos. Don’t like broccoli? There are a thousand other subjects covered! If saffron has such powerful psychological and neuroendicrinological effects, how might it stack against drugs in the treatment of depression? Find out in tomorrow’s Saffron vs. Prozac.

    If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.




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  2. Maybe men should use this in their aftershave and women in their perfume?  Just a thought.  Please keep up the good work.  I was in the audience at SF Vegfest and thoroughly enjoyed your talk.  I wanted to buy a couple of copies of your $10 DVD for marketing my family, but I lost you in the crowd.




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  3. Makes sense. All makes sense that in the industrial world today, non-detectable scents of all sorts from everywhere, and even the lack of trees and nature we once had when living in the natural plains, affects us all.




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  4. At my favorite local Asian market in the spice section, I found a product called Azafron Flor (Saffron Flower). It was cheap! About $1 for .37 oz or 10g. I’ve been able to figure out that Azafran Flor is spanish for Saffron Flower, which apparently made from the leaves of the Crocus & not the stigmas. Can anyone confirm this? Moreover, Dr. Greger, do you think this cheaper version of saffron might have the same effect as the more pure saffron thread variety?




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  5. Dr. Greger,

    Can you let me know how often the Saffron was sniffed during the study? I just bought some and want to try it.

    thanks

    Steve from San Diego.




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  6. Has there been an investigation of the effects of other crocus varieties? And since much of the price seem to stem from hand picking the stigmas, what about eating the whole darn flower? I admit to eating a few flowers on a dare, only to realize that some taste good and would probably be great in salads. But I don’t know flowers very well and would prefer not to poison myself. What are your thoughts?




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  7. Now they need a third study, where they test individuals imagining smelling saffron, I am practicing this right now since my mood is all over the place thanks to that time of the month and I don’t have any on hand.




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  8. I wonder why you havent mentioned Agnus castus (Vitex)?!!!

    Agnus Castus (known also as Vitex,
    Chaste Berry or Monk’s Pepper) is regarded as the most effective herbal
    remedy in coping with PMS symptoms. It is especially useful and even
    amazing when PMS is associated with heavy and painful periods, short
    cycle, mood swings, irritability, menstrual cramps, fluid retention, or
    tender breasts. Agnus castus is a large shrub (native to the
    Mediterranean region of southern Europe) with lilac or white flowers and
    small fruits.

    Taking Agnus works by stimulating the body to produce more natural progesterone in a safe and controlled way.

    According to a German study, over 90% of
    the female participants reported that their PMS symptoms either
    significantly decreased or even completely disappeared after 3 months of
    treatment with Agnus castus! In another large study (with 1,634
    participants taking Agnus castus) 42% reported complete recovery from
    PMS while 51% managed to decrease symptoms. In addition, 86% of the
    physicians involved in the study declared that the treatment of PMS with
    Agnus castus had “a pronounced efficacy”. At the same time no serious
    side effects of using Agnus castus were reported.

    For PMS I usually recommend Agnus castus
    in the form of tincture (Natures Answer) or tablets (Natures Aid) and
    our female customers repeatedly confirmed effectiveness of both of them.
    If you want Agnus castus to work faster take it in the form of tincture
    (Natures answer makes the most effective one). It must be taken every
    day throughout the cycle (not just the week before the period). Stop
    taking AC after the symptoms disappear and start again if they appear
    again.

    It is not recommended to take Agnus castus or any other
    hormone-balancing herb (Dong quai, Black Cohosh, etc.) if you use
    hormonal contraceptives, hormonal medication, an implant or a coil as AC
    may nullify their effect by regulating the hormonal imbalance they
    cause.

    SOURCE:
    http://www.fullhealthsecrets.com/diseases/pms/?preview_id=1419&preview_nonce=fa907b75cb&preview=true




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  9. Where do I find saffron flowers to buy? I know someone who is constantly stressed. I give her a bouquet of flowers for her birthday. Maybe it could be a bouquet of saffron. Anyone know where I could find these?

    Also, I’m wondering if saffron essential oil is sold and if that would work. I have this tiny case that holds essential oil and wooden sticks. You flip the sticks and it disperses the scent throughout the room. I wonder if saffron scent would be as effective in this form.




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