Facebook Pixel

Saffron and Alzheimer’s Dementia

Rate This
Alzheimer's Disease related image Photo: Getty Images

Almost every week, a new spice or herb is said to delay mental decline in patients who have contracted Alzheimer’s dementia. Saffron is an exotic and expensive spice, used chiefly to flavor food. The spice is extracted from the crocus flower and has been used to treat a variety of medical ailments by both Asians and people who live in the Mediterranean region. Cultivation of saffron is very demanding and labor intensive. The yield is small and this accounts for its high price.

Saffron has a distinct smell and is widely used in Spanish dishes. The use of saffron to treat medical disorders dates back 4,000 years. It has been used to treat arthritis, cough, liver disorders, poor eyesight, dermatitis and asthma. Now, some people believe that saffron is a brain-boosting agent and can enhance memory.

Recently two studies showed that saffron could prevent decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia. The study revealed that patients who took saffron had better overall mental function. The individuals took 30 mg of saffron everyday from 16-22 weeks. Using standard cognitive function tests, researchers were able to show that regular saffron use provided mental benefits to Alzheimer’s patients. Individuals who took the saffron fared better mentally than those who did not. Saffron was also compared to Aricept, a drug that has been widely used for treatment of early Alzheimer’s dementia. How saffron improved mental function is not known but these researchers speculate that it may help reduce formation of beta-amyloid plaque, a substance that often builds up in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s dementia.

So should people starting consuming saffron on a regular basis?

Experts say these studies were poorly designed, the number of patients followed was small and the length of follow up of 16 weeks is inappropriate. Alzheimer's dementia can remain stable for many years and the decline is gradual. Besides the mental decline, many behavior changes also occur in these patients- none of which were looked at. Second, saffron is prohibitively expensive. Taking 30 mg of saffron on a daily basis can easily costs more than $300-$600 a month.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

This is a biased article since scientists in the Middle East and India have proven time and time again that the crocetin in saffron crosses the blood brain barrier and truly can inhibit formation of plaques in the brain etc Cross reference these studies from the West with existing studies from the East if you're going to be thorough about it. The West is woefully behind in understanding how natural substances can cure and or ameliorate disease.

December 31, 2013 - 12:20pm
EmpowHER Guest

That's not true that taking 30 mg a day would cost $300 to $600 a month. I've been taking 30 mg a day for over a year (two?) and I haven't spent that much TOTAL in all that time. I get it from Exir, which apparently produces some of the purest kind.

May 8, 2013 - 5:32am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for the tip about Exir. It looks like a great product - and affordable!

September 29, 2013 - 7:11am
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Alzheimer's Disease

Get Email Updates

Alzheimer's Disease Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!