Saffron is an extravagant, sweet-smelling spice commonly used in Indian, Turkish, and Persian cuisine and is closely related to turmeric. Its use in traditional health approaches has spanned thousands of years, and modern research seems to back up its commonly-reported benefits. Like any spice, saffron may be a formidable force against internal swelling and irritation in the body. For years, research has also linked this red grass-like spice with mood health, showing it could be a powerful tool against varying forms of depression.
Saffron for Mental Health: A Depression Fighter?
While it may not be a one-size-fits-all approach, saffron supplementation may be helpful for some people in regulating mood and mental health. A recent meta-analysis examining the years of saffron research has found many clinical trials suggest the spice could improve the symptoms of depression.  The exact mechanisms behind which saffron exhibits beneficial effects against mood-related disorders is largely unknown; however, it’s hypothesized that it may be due to its antioxidant content.  Not only does saffron provide a lower risk-to-benefit ratio compared to antidepressants, saffron may also inhibit the side effects commonly experienced by antidepressants. That means, as an adjunct to conventional approaches to depression, saffron may be an ideal supplement for reducing side effects from antidepressant drugs. That’s not to say you should stop taking antidepressants – far from it. But, if you do have concerns about the medications you are taking, talk to your doctor about the types of strategies you can use to support mental health.
Saffron: Natural Support for Mental Health
There are many things you can do to protect your mood and even strengthen it without having to rely on pharmaceutical methods. While antidepressants may be necessary in some cases, you should also consider optimizing your vitamin D, exercising, and getting plenty of high-quality sleep. Don’t forget about nutrition. Omega-3 fats are excellent mood supporters, and you can get them easily from vegan sources such as chia and flax seed. What do you do to support your mental health and mood? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments!
- Hausenblas HA, Heekin K, Mutchie HL, Anton S. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining the effectiveness of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) on psychological and behavioral outcomes. J Integr Med. 2015 Jul;13(4):231-40. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60176-5.
- Saleem S, Ahmad M, Ahmad AS, et al. Effect of Saffron (Crocus sativus) on neurobehavioral and neurochemical changes in cerebral ischemia in rats. J Med Food. 2006 Summer;9(2):246-53.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.