Autumn Crocus, Azafrán, Azafron, Croci Stigma, Crocus Cultivé, Crocus sativus, Indian Saffron, Kashmira, Kesar, Kumkuma, Saffron Crocus, Safran, Safran Cultivé, Safran Espagnol, Safran des Indes, Safran Véritable, Spanish Saffron, True Saffron, Zafran.<br/><br/>
Overview InformationSaffron is a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is considered one of the world's most expensive spices. The stigmas, and sometimes the petals, are also used to make medicine.
Saffron is used for depression and Alzheimer disease. Women use saffron for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Men use it to for early orgasm (premature ejaculation) and infertility. Saffron is used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
Some people apply saffron directly to the scalp for baldness (alopecia).
In foods, saffron is used as a spice, yellow food coloring, and as a flavoring agent.
In manufacturing, saffron extracts are used as fragrance in perfumes and as a dye for cloth.
How does it work?Saffron contains chemicals that alter mood, kill cancer cells, decrease swelling, and act like antioxidants.
Uses & Effectiveness
Possibly Effective for
- Alzheimer's disease. Taking a specific saffron extract by mouth for up to 22 weeks seems to improve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Saffron might work about as well as the prescription drug donepezil (Aricept).
- Depression. Research shows that taking saffron or saffron extract by mouth for 6-12 weeks improves symptoms of major depression. Some studies show that saffron might be as effective as taking a prescription antidepressant, such as fluoxetine, imipramine, or citalopram. Early research in patients already taking an antidepressant shows that taking crocin, a chemical found in saffron, for 4 weeks reduces symptoms of depression more than taking the antidepressant alone.
- Menstrual discomfort. Some research shows the taking a specific product containing saffron, anise, and celery seed reduces pain during the menstrual cycle.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some research shows that taking a specific saffron extract improves symptoms of PMS after two menstrual cycles.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Early research shows that taking saffron for up to 6 months might lead to small improvements in vision for people with AMD.
- Improved sexual function in people taking antidepressants. Taking an antidepressant can make some people lose interest in sex. Early research shows that taking saffron for 4 weeks improves satisfaction with sex in men and women taking an antidepressant. But it doesn't seem to improve desire for sex or orgasm.
- Increased blood sugar levels in people taking medications for schizophrenia (antipsychotics). Some antipsychotic drugs can increase blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Early research shows that taking saffron for 12 weeks can prevent this increase in blood sugar. But taking saffron doesn't seem to prevent the increase in blood cholesterol.
- Anxiety. A small study shows that taking saffron for 12 weeks can reduce anxiety symptoms in some people.
- Asthma. Early research shows that drinking an herbal tea containing saffron and other herbal ingredients reduces asthma symptoms in people with allergic asthma. It's unclear if this effect is due to saffron or the other ingredients in the tea.
- Athletic performance. Early research shows that taking saffron, or a chemical from saffron called crocetin, can decrease fatigue and improve muscle strength in men during exercise.
- Erectile dysfunction. Early research shows that applying saffron to the skin can improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Some research has also shown that taking saffron by mouth can benefit men with erectile dysfunction. But other research shows that taking saffron by mouth is not beneficial. More research is needed to understand if saffron is useful for treating erectile dysfunction.
- Sore muscles due to exercise. Early research shows that taking saffron might prevent sore muscles in men who do not typically exercise.
- Glaucoma. Early research shows that taking saffron for 4 weeks, in addition to regular treatment, might reduce some of the symptoms of glaucoma.
- High blood pressure. Early research shows that drinking black tea containing saffron three times daily for 8 weeks does not reduce blood pressure in people who have diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Male infertility. Some research shows that saffron might improve sperm function in men. But other research has not shown this benefit.
- Depression after giving birth (postpartum depression). Early research shows that taking a specific saffron product for 6 weeks works as well as fluoxetine for reducing symptoms of depression in women after giving birth. Other early research shows that taking saffron for 8 weeks might reduce symptoms of depression in breastfeeding women. But it's not clear if saffron caused this effect or if the depression went away on its own.
- Early male orgasm (premature ejaculation).
- "Hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
- Stomach gas.
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & SafetySaffron is LIKELY SAFE in food amounts. Saffron is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth as a medicine for up to 26 weeks. Some possible side effects include dry mouth, anxiety, agitation, drowsiness, low mood, sweating, nausea or vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, change in appetite, flushing, and headache. Allergic reactions can occur in some people.
Taking large amounts of saffron by mouth is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. High doses of 5 grams or more can cause poisoning. Doses of 12-20 grams can cause death.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking saffron by mouth in amounts larger than what is normally found in food is LIKELY UNSAFE. Larger amounts of saffron can make the uterus contract and might cause a miscarriage.
Not enough is known about the safety of using saffron during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and stick to using only food amounts.
Bipolar disorder: Saffron seems to be able to affect mood. There is a concern that it might trigger excitability and impulsive behavior (mania) in people with bipolar disorder. Don't use saffron if you have this condition.
Allergies to Lolium, Olea (includes olive), and Salsola plant species: People who are allergic to these plants might also be allergic to saffron.
Heart conditions: Saffron might affect how fast and how strong the heart beats. Taking large amounts of saffron might worsen some heart conditions.
Low blood pressure: Saffron might lower blood pressure. Taking saffron might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.
We currently have no information for SAFFRON Interactions.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For Alzheimer's disease: 30 mg of saffron extract daily for 22 weeks.
- For depression: 30 mg of a saffron extract or 100 mg of saffron daily for up to 12 weeks.
- For premenstrual syndrome (PMS): 15 mg of a saffron extract twice daily.
- For menstrual discomfort: 500 mg of a specific combination product containing saffron, celery seed and anise extracts (SCA, Gol Daro Herbal Medicine Laboratory) taken three times a day for the first three days of menstruation.
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- Laabich, A., Vissvesvaran, G. P., Lieu, K. L., Murata, K., McGinn, T. E., Manmoto, C. C., Sinclair, J. R., Karliga, I., Leung, D. W., Fawzi, A., and Kubota, R. Protective effect of crocin against blue light- and white light-mediated photoreceptor cell death in bovine and primate retinal primary cell culture. Invest Ophthalmol.Vis.Sci. 2006;47(7):3156-3163. View abstract.
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- Maccarone, R., Di Marco, S., and Bisti, S. Saffron supplement maintains morphology and function after exposure to damaging light in mammalian retina. Invest Ophthalmol.Vis.Sci. 2008;49(3):1254-1261. View abstract.
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