Saffron’s ancient secrets revealed


Pharmactive, Madrid, Spain


Over the past few decades clinical research has yielded significant support for a number of natural, plant-derived treatments for health and well being. One area of current particular interest concerns mitigation of symptoms of stress and situational depression. Spanish Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), and especially its bioactive components crocins and safranal have demonstrated particularly significant evidence of such effect. A review of recent research studies on standardized extracts from stigmas of Crocus sativus L. for improving mood, stress, anxiety and sleep quality in healthy adults and younger persons to determine efficacy as compared to placebos. Analysis of the research reviewed indicates standardized extracts from stigmas of Crocus sativus L. can deliver a significant decrease in negative moods and symptoms related to stress and anxiety among both adults and younger demographics, while helping improve sleep, overall well being, and physical health as related to oxidative stress mitigation. The main weaknesses of this investigation were found in the self-reporting nature (via screening, testing, and results) of persons suffering from the mood disorders studied, as well as the highly subjective nature of the experience of particular stressors. Purified and standardized extracts from stigmas of Crocus sativus L.  can help increased mood, reduced anxiety, and mitigate the symptoms of stress and negative mood without side effects, offering a natural alternative to standard treatments.


While the rare spice saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has an ancient reputation for health benefits in traditional medicines — including ancient Greek, Persian, and Ayurvedic medicine — the secrets of its benefits for everything from cardiovascular health (1) to mental well being (2), healthier sleep (3), eye health (4), and even menstrual pain (5) is endorsed by a growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research. This paper will explore some of those benefits, with focus on those benefits specifically related to stress and depression mitigation and overall mental health for adults. It also will examine those mental health benefits on younger subjects, a demographic not often covered in saffron research.


The long list of health concerns proposed to be addressed by extracts of the spice saffron (Crocus sativus L.) secures it as one of the primary ingredients found in traditional medicines across the Near and Middle East and most of South Asia and The Mediterranean led by Spain. As such a prominent ingredient, modern scientific method has been applied across hundreds of studies to glean the secrets of this ...