The Mediterranean herb saffron, long used in cooking, is made from the dried stigma (top of the female portion) of the
flower. Each flower has only three small stigmas, and it requires about 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron. As a cooking herb, saffron is valued for its intense orange-yellow color and its subtle flavor. Medicinally, it has been used since ancient times for strengthening digestion, relieving coughs, smoothing menstruation, relaxing muscle spasms, improving mood, and calming anxiety. Saffron contains
What Is Saffron Used for Today?
The best evidence for medicinal effects of saffron involve treatment of depression
Other proposed uses of saffron have even weaker supporting evidence.
In the studies of depression described above, saffron was used at a dose of 30 mg daily of an alcohol-based extract.
Saffron appears to be safe.
One study found no serious adverse effects among healthy volunteers given up to 200 mg/day of saffron for one week.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
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2. Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, et al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol . 2005;97:281–4.
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9. Garcia-Olmo DC, Riese HH, Escribano J, et al. Effects of long-term treatment of colon adenocarcinoma with crocin, a carotenoid from saffron ( Crocus sativus L.): an experimental study in the rat. Nutr Cancer . 2000;35:120–6.
13. Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, et al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol . 2005;97:281–4.
14. Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA et al. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine . 2006 Sep 14 [Epub ahead of print]
15. Akhondzadeh Basti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, et al. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry . 2006 Dec 14 [Epub ahead of print].
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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