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The Science of Saffron: Can It Really Protect You from Depression?

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Saffron, considered to be the most expensive spice in the world, is also a powerhouse of health benefits. We all know that saffron is an aphrodisiac, helps to fight depression, promotes cognitive health, relieves the common cold and cough, and even protects against some forms of cancer.

But did you know that this spice that has been used for the last 4,000 years has tremendous mood-boosting benefits? So much so that it is known as the ‘sunshine spice’ not just for its brilliant red-orange color but also for its mood-elevating properties.

Let’s get to know these benefits of saffron better.

Why Should You Consider Natural Alternatives Like Saffron For Mood Enhancement?

According to The World Health Organization, approximately 280 million people suffer from depression the world over. Though it’s a common mental condition, it has serious ramifications on a person’s health. This is a mood disorder that causes feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and irritability.

If not treated in time, the condition progresses, and its symptoms start interfering with one’s daily life and may even lead to suicidal thoughts.

Depression is usually treated through a combination of medications and psychotherapy. While effective, both these lines of treatment are said to have adverse effects in the long run.

For instance, as verified by the Materiasociomedica Journal, antidepressants can cause side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth, insomnia, palpitations, and even hypertension.

According to the Systematic Reviews Journal, long-term psychotherapy may lead to the deterioration of symptoms.

This is why more and more people around the world are moving towards natural alternative treatments to treat depression. One such measure is the inclusion of saffron in one’s daily routine.

Let’s take a look at the mood-enhancing benefits of saffron.

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How Does Saffron Help Treat Depression?

The impact of saffron on depression has been a matter of research for a long time. It not only impacts one’s state of mind but also has a positive impact on conditions that often result in a person feeling depressed.

Here is how saffron works for depression:

Saffron Fights Depression

The Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences establishes the anti-depressant activity of saffron. Several clinical trials prove that saffron is more effective than a placebo and works equivalent to therapeutic doses of fluoxetine and imipramine.

This is mainly due to crocin, which is one of the main phytochemicals constituted in saffron. It allows your brain to produce more serotonin, which acts as a mood-elevating neurotransmitter. When taken over a long term, saffron improves symptoms of depression.

It Elevates Your Mood

Saffron is known to elevate one’s mood and reduce instances of mood swings. These mood changes could be triggered by stressful life events, illness, money problems, and the like.

It triggers your brain to produce more dopamine and other mood-enhancing hormones and enzymes. These are the same compounds that anti-depressant medicines aim to enhance in your body.

Improves Your Sleep Patterns

There is a closer interconnection between depression and sleep. While people with insomnia or troubled sleep patterns are at a higher risk of depression, people who suffer from depression can have poor sleep patterns. According to a Hindawi study, approximately 150 million people suffer from sleep problems currently.

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According to a National Library of Medicine Journal, several studies have proven that saffron improves sleep quality in adults with sleep-related complaints. It helps you fall asleep better and for longer. When you sleep better, you feel brighter and happier. This has a direct impact on your mood and leads to a reduction in symptoms of depression.

Protects You From Neurodegenerative Disorders

Depression is one of the most common symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. As mentioned in the World Journal of Clinical Cases, people suffering from conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, etc., experience frequent depressive symptoms.

Saffron as mentioned in the Frontiers Journal, saffron has neuroprotective effects that safeguard you against the risk of neurodegenerative conditions. Crocin, the main compound of saffron, has a marked impact on one’s cognitive functioning. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce oxidative stress. This leads to better cognitive performance and, hence, a reduced risk of neurological disorders.

Improves Your Cognitive Functioning

One of the most common outcomes of depression is cognitive impairment. This condition has symptoms such as slow thinking, loss of memory, lack of concentration, and inability to make decisions. You may also experience language problems, issues with reasoning and judgment, and problems communicating.

Saffron is very beneficial for mild cognitive impairment. This benefit of saffron is due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. When the level of inflammation reduces in your body, it has a direct impact on your cognitive functioning.

Benefits Your Overall Health

People who suffer from chronic conditions have a higher risk of depression. These include conditions such as type-2 diabetes, heart conditions, hypertension, and certain types of cancers. These conditions cause several discomforting symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, aches, and pains.

Saffron has a positive impact on these chronic conditions. For instance, by reducing cholesterol and obesity, saffron reduces the risk of cardiovascular conditions. It is also beneficial for people suffering from type-2 diabetes by preventing insulin resistance in the body.  

How Can You Incorporate Saffron In Your Diet?

For you to gain the above-mentioned benefits of saffron, you need to consume it in adequate quantities. While you can mix saffron strands in tea leaves and food, it would have low bioavailability.

The best way to include an adequate amount of saffron in your diet is through its concentrated supplements. Saffron supplements enhance their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits and hence improve their benefits for your health. However, to gain these benefits, make sure that you choose only good quality supplements such as Rasayanam Pure Kashmiri Saffron. It is 100 percent organic and safe.

The Bottom Line

Saffron has calming properties that not only reduce the risk of depression but also help reduce the impact of its symptoms. Not just this, saffron supplements also have a positive impact on health conditions that put you at risk for depression. We advise speaking to your healthcare provider before including saffron supplements in your diet.

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