We’ve all heard about the amazing spice saffron and we know its wide culinary applications. But this aromatic spice can also have a number of medicinal applications and it’s very popular in Asia. Saffron, or Crocus sativus (C.sativus) has a number of benefits for our nervous system. Its main ingredients are safranal, picrocrocin and crocin and all of these are highly beneficial for our health. According to studies, saffron can be used in the treatment of a number of health conditions like hypertension, coronary artery diseases, stomach ailments and memory impairments. Moreover, these studies also suggest that saffron had antigenotoxic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic properties.
Numerous human and animal studies have shown that saffron, or C.sativus can be effective in the treatment of Alzheimer, mild depression and even help addicts in withdrawal. According to these studies, application of C.sativus increases dopamine and glutamate levels which is beneficial for all of these conditions.
Iranian folk medicine widely uses saffron as an anticonvulsant remedy. But it’s not just folk medicine, animal studies have proven saffron’s anticonvulsant effects. The study in questions administered doses of 400-800mg/kg of saffron to rats and mice and it had significantly reduced the epileptic activity in the affected subjects.
According to a study done on subjects 55 years and older saffron (administered in doses of 30mg per day) can have almost the same effect as donepezil in the treatment of moderate Alzheimer’s.
Another study examined the effect of saffron in the treatment of patients suffering from depression. Subjects who were given saffron supplements had a statistically better mood compared to the subjects who received placebo. The subjects received saffron supplementation in the dose of 30mg a day for a month and a half. Moreover, the short-term treatment with saffron was almost as effective as fluoxetine in alleviating the symptoms of depression in patients diagnosed with MDD (major depressive disorder.)
Some of the main components in saffron (crocin, safranal and crocetin) have been shown to help in the treatment of some neurodegenerative diseases, like Parkinson. The two components, safranal and crocin, have an inhibitory effect on fibrillation of a-alpha-LA thus preventing the formation of toxic amyloid structures, which is considered to be the main factor in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
According to the studies mentioned above, saffron has numerous beneficial effect on our nervous system. Hence, the results of the studies would indicate that there’s a significant therapeutic potential in saffron when it comes to the treatment of a number of nervous system disorders. The studies have shown that saffron has a positive effect in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It was also shown that saffron can be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, probably due to its interaction with noradrenaline and serotonin.
All of this looks very promising but in order to have a more detailed view on the entire scope of possibilities more studies need to be done on the subject.