Saffron Helps Defeat Depression : Terry Talks Nutrition

Study Spotlight

Study Spotlight

Saffron Helps Defeat Depression

If you suffer from depression, trying to find a way to lift out of it can seem daunting. The causes of depression – and they are many – can make treatment options pretty complicated, and the prescription drugs most often recommended also bring a lot of side effects that create their own set of problems.

Fortunately, a natural medicine, saffron (Crocus sativus) fights depression along a number of fronts. Brain chemistry, inflammation, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responses can all contribute to various types of depressive disorders.

Research with saffron shows that it appears to address all three. It reduces inflammatory reactions, boosts serotonin production, lowers cortisol, and helps preserve levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Best yet, saffron is safe. Clinical research shows that aside from being effective, saffron is generally free of adverse side effects.


Shafiee M, Arekhi S, Omranzadeh A, Sahebkar A. Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action. J Affect Disord. 2018;227:330–337.

Background: Depression and anxiety are two common mental health problems with high economic and social costs. Currently, a number of treatments are available for patients with depression and anxiety disorders such as psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy and antidepressant drugs. Due to safety concerns, adverse effects, limited efficacy and low tolerability associated with many antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications, identification of novel agents with less toxicity and more favorable outcome is warranted.

Methods: The current article provides a non-systematic review of the available in vitro, in vivo and clinical evidence on the efficacy, safety and mechanisms of action of saffron and its active ingredients in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.

Results: Several interesting data have been reported about the antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties of saffron, the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus L., in several preclinical and clinical studies. In particular, a number of clinical trials demonstrated that saffron and its active constituents possess antidepressant properties similar to those of current antidepressant medications such as fluoxetine, imipramine and citalopram, but with fewer reported side effects.

Conclusion: Saffron may exert antidepressant effects and represents an efficacious and safe treatment.

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