Saffron & Depressive Thoughts
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 38 million Americans suffer with mood disorders each year, and 78 million will be afflicted at some point in their lives. Left untreated, mood issues can have serious personal, relational, occupational and social consequences.
Until recently, many people felt that mood problems were the result of a weak will, bad character, or sin. Recent brain science has revealed that these disorders are in large part the result of brain dysfunction. Depressive thoughts are associated with low levels of certain neurotransmitters, especially norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, as well as deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids.
When people with anxious or depressive thoughts seek help (typically from a primary care physician), most receive medication as the only intervention. However, these medications often have significant side effects, especially in the area of sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and relapse.
What is Saffron Used For?
Multiple research studies suggest that saffron, a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, may support healthy levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. Saffron is high in carotenoids and B vitamins that help increase the levels of serotonin and other chemicals in the brain that are associated with mood concerns.
A meta-analysis of five studies found saffron extract to be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating people with depressive tendencies. Another study found saffron to be as effective as fluoxetine (Prozac) in reducing mild to moderate mood dysregulation.
Additionally, research has demonstrated the effectiveness of curcumin, the naturally occurring chemical compound in turmeric, as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with depressive thoughts and memory issues. One study in particular found that not only was curcumin tolerated well by all the participants, but they discovered curcumin was as effective as Prozac in managing mood.
Saffron & Curcumin Benefits for Patients with Mood Concerns
In a 2013 study of human subjects with depressive propensities, curcumin’s effectiveness was similar to that of a standard antidepressant medication. More importantly, curcumin contains none of the side effects associated with common antidepressant medications and provides additional health benefits as well.
Recent research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders looked at the effectiveness of both curcumin and saffron in treating major mood issues. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 123 individuals with major mood disorder, it was shown that doses of curcumin and combined curcumin/saffron were effective in reducing anxious and depressive thoughts.
Dietary supplements can be a great way to attain the same nutrients that research studies have found to deliver amazing health benefits. Supplements can help enhance the functions of the body with little to no side effects. It’s important when taking dietary supplements that you are confident in their quality, and that you speak to a nutritionally informed physician before beginning any new regimens.
For more information about our full catalog of brain healthy supplements, visit the online store at BrainMD.