Saffron is an expensive spice obtained from the flowers of the saffron plant (Crocus sativus). The spice is commonly used in cooking and also in some systems of traditional medicine.
Saffron is typically consumed as a spice but it is also available in the form of supplements. It is believed that saffron supplements can be very helpful in weight loss and in the treatment of a number of ailments.
In traditional systems of medicine, saffron is prescribed for the treatment of asthma, pertusis, cough and insomnia.
Saffron is also believed to improve the overall beauty of the body. There is scientific proof to back some of the medicinal properties of saffron.
Studies have found that saffron shows promise in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and depression. It is also useful as a weight loss supplement.
Saffron extract supplements have been found to relieve depression. Some studies indicate that saffron supplements can be as effective as antidepressants such as fluoxetine and imipramine.
For depression, the prescribed dosage is 30 mg per day. 15 mg of supplement taken two times a day can also show good results.
Saffron is believed to contain chemicals which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Thus, by increasing serotonin levels, saffron helps in reducing depression.
A study published in 2005 in the journal Phytotherapy Research finds that saffron is effective in comparison to placebo in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
The study involved 40 participants suffering from depression. Some participants were administered saffron supplement while the remainder were given placebo.
Participants who took saffron showed improvements. Another study published in 2004 in BMC Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that saffron is equally effective as imipramine, an antidepressant drug.
Saffron doesn’t seem to have any serious side effects if it is taken in the prescribed dosages. Most users do not show any side effects when the supplement is taken for six weeks.
However, in some cases, side effects such as dry mouth, anxiety, drowsiness, change in eating patterns, etc may be experienced. In some rarer cases, allergic reactions may also be experienced.
It is important that saffron supplements are taken only in the prescribed dosages. Taking large amounts of any medication or supplement can be dangerous.
Higher dosages can cause poisoning. Symptoms of saffron poisoning include yellowing of skin, eyes and mucous membranes, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea and other serious side effects.
For best results, saffron supplements should be taken in the prescribed dosages only.