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Saffron as antidepressant and saffron to prevent and cure side effects of common antidepressants. Saffron against burnout, anxiety attacks, gluttony, OCD, …

For many years I am using several Amanprana products. My all-time favorites are Kotobuki Matcha, Gula Java Cacao, Gula Java Safran, Coconut Oil, Botanico Mix and Razoli.

Marco Zielinski, Geschäftsführer, Rhino's energy GmbH, Germany

More people suffer from depression than ever before Anxiety, constipation, suicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, …

In the West 1 in 10 adults say that they suffer from depression. By 2020 depression is expected to be the world’s biggest cause behind an inability to function (2).
Billions spent on modern psychopharmacology annually: antidepressants. Their use continues to rise, Americans are top of the list with 11% of the population taking antidepressants (4).
The tragedy? Around 90 % of these patients experience at least one of the numerous serious side effects (5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10) – such as anxiety, constipation, suicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, putting on weight (6)7)(8)(9)(10) and sexual disorders.  Also, the association between using antidepressants during pregnancy and the risk of autism for the child (11) is great. As many as 73 % of the people who take antidepressants will end up suffering from sexual disorders (10). Antidepressants often lose their effectiveness in the course of the treatment, but the sexual disorder frequently continues for years to come (9).
In an attempt to prevent side effects, a lot of people are now looking for alternatives (13).
In this article we are disclosing new findings, which demonstrate that saffron (Crocus sativus) is just as effective as certain modern-day medications in the treatment of depression, but without the undesirable side effects (14)(15). There are also sufficient indications that - when saffron is added to an existing treatment with antidepressants - it works as a powerful complementary therapy to block the undesirable sexual effects (16)!  Saffron can also be used in cases of anxiety and obsessive and compulsive disorders, which are often helped with antidepressants.

Saffron to boost your mood.
Goodbye depression, goodbye burnout! Goodbye antidepressants!

In Persian traditional medicine saffron was already used against depression (17). This early use led to the contemporary research into the influence of saffron on our mood. Research since 2001 shows that saffron extract possesses clear anti-depressant properties (18).  These tests were however always carried out on mice.

In 2010 scientists carried out a scientifically conclusive double-blind, randomised, clinical study on humans in order to compare saffron with a placebo. 40 adult outpatients were diagnosed as suffering from severe depression according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. After 6 weeks the saffron subjects demonstrated considerably better results on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale than the placebo subjects. The effectiveness of Crocus sativus (saffron) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (17) was also proved on humans. No significant side effects were reported. Subsequently scientists searched for the effectiveness of saffron in comparison with a lot of common antidepressant medication. Could saffron be just as effective against depression as medicine?

Saffron effective in the treatment of depression, without the undesirable side effects
Saffron effective in the treatment of depression, without the undesirable side effects

Saffron better than Tofranil (Imipramine)

In a double-blind single-centre study, scientists randomly divided 30 depressed patients into two groups. One group took a 30mg capsule of saffron three times a day; the other group took 100mg of Tofranil three times a day. All the subjects satisfied the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, criteria for severe depression (14). Just 6 weeks later, the dose of saffron was demonstrated to be just as effective as Tofranil in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. The Tofranil group was the only one to suffer from anticholinergic symptoms, such as a dry mouth (an anticholinergic blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the nervous system) and considerable, undesired sedation. The author of the study came to the conclusion “that saffron has a therapeutic advantage in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in relation to Tofranil" (14).

Saffron just as good as Prozac (Fluoxetine)

Forty adult outpatients who satisfied the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (criteria for depression) were randomly assigned to a group which took a 30mg capsule of saffron pistils twice a day or else to the group which took one 20mg capsule of Prozac twice a day (15). At the end of the 6 week long, double-blind, randomised study saffron was found to be just as effective as Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. There weren’t any significant differences in undesired reactions. (15).

These studies clearly show that saffron is a powerful alternative to commonly prescribed antidepressants for the treatment of depression, but then without side effects. But saffron is also perfect for the treatment of other emotional cognitive disorders, without side effects!
In spite of their name antidepressants are used to treat more than just depression. They are used for a broad range of other emotional and cognitive complaints such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and Alzheimer’s (19)(20)(21)(22).
Some scientists reasoned that - as saffron is just as effective against depression as antidepressants – saffron is probably also a safer treatment for those other disorders which are often treated with antidepressants. Surprisingly it now appears that, when saffron is added to the treatment of male and female patients who already take antidepressants, the negative sexual side effects of the antidepressant are reduced!

Saffron effective in treatment of anxiety attacks

Anxiety can be crippling and almost 30% of the Western population has had to deal with the symptoms of severe anxiety at one time in their life (27). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often recommended for the treatment of anxiety disorders (20) and social anxieties (21).   They come with a range of negative side effects, from nausea to sexual disorders (6)(7)(8)(9).
Fortunately animal studies have come up with a powerful and safe alternative: they demonstrate that saffron, and more particularly the active components 'crocin' and 'safranal' reduce anxiety attacks, without harmful side effects (28)(29).

Saffron effective with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCS)

An obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCS) can be so serious that patients devote pretty much all of their time to their obsessions and compulsiveness (30). In the majority of cases antidepressants are tried out first, in an attempt to control the time-consuming and stressful symptoms (22) of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is not unusual for different medicines of different doses to be tried out, before any amount of control of the symptoms can be achieved (22). Finally, almost always different medicines are combined (22), which can result in several levels of negative symptoms which can considerably counteract positive advantages.
Studies show that there is an interaction between crocin in saffron and the serotonergic (the neurotransmitters which are responsible for serotonin secretion) in medication (31). A study demonstrated that crocin can considerably reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms without any significant negative side effects (31).

Saffron effective in treating gluttony and uncontrollable eating

Obesity has become an epidemic. The disorder, which is also known as reactional gluttony, or reactional polyphagia, is also responsible for uncontrollable snacking and eating (33). Obesity is related to an imbalance in the neurotransmitters and a particularly low level of serotonin. Stress, vulnerability and a disordered brain increase your urge for food and overeating (32). You reward yourself with snacking and uncontrollable eating (34)(35)(36)(37).
Unfortunately appetite depressant medicines often have dangerous side effects: heart valve damage, birth defects, liver damage and increased blood pressure, and sometimes even fatal consequences (38).
Scientists launched a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study with 60 slightly overweight women at least half of whom were judged to be suffering from a form of compulsive snacking between meals. After 8 weeks the number of snacks in the saffron group had gone down by 28 % and 55 % reported a reduced need to snack (37)! After 8 weeks and without a diet, the saffron group had on average lost 2 kilos and reported increased energy and reactions (37). This weight loss demonstrates how you can lose weight in a meaningful way by cutting down on snacking.

Antidepressants cause serious side effects in more than 50% of patients.
Saffron offers a healthy solution.

Even though antidepressants are associated with a broad range of negative reactions (6)7)(8)(9)(10) negative sexual side effects, in particular, can be frustrating. As negative sexual side effects the loss of sexual drive, inability to reach orgasm and erectile dysfunction were mentioned. (9)(10).
These undesirable sexual symptoms are often underestimated (10). However research demonstrates that sexual dysfunction with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Effexor (Venlafaxine) affects between 58 and 73 % of people on antidepressants (10)! And these sexual symptoms can continue long after you stop taking the medication - months, years, or even for an indefinite period (9)! Unfortunately people who suffer from depression have often struggled with different antidepressants for years, before they could finally lead a stable life with a specific dose of a specific medicine. Doctors and patients are as a consequence reluctant to change their regime ‘simply’ to prevent or cure the sexual complaints (40)(41)(42). Instead of this doctors often prescribe complementary medicines (43)(44)(45)(46)(47). However, these complementary medicines all have negative side effects of their own (45)(46)(47)(48).
In the meantime scientists have discovered that saffron doesn’t just work as an antidepressant but can also have positive effects on the sex life as an aphrodisiac. Studies on humans and animals have demonstrated this (16)(49)(50)(51).

Saffron blocks the negative sexual side effects of antidepressants!

In autumn 2012, a randomised, double-blind trial was carried out on 36 married men with a depressive disorder, the symptoms of which were successfully stabilised with Prozac, but who complained of sexual disorders. They were randomly assigned to a group to take, alongside their usual dose of Prozac, 2x15mg saffron per day or 2x15mg placebo per day. Sexual function was determined with the aid of a standard index (16). After 4 weeks the men in the Prozac plus saffron group had significantly less erectile dysfunctions and better sexual intercourse than the Prozac plus placebo group. The team concluded that "saffron is an acceptable and effective treatment for male sexual disorders caused by Prozac" (16).
In 2013 38 women were studied, all of whom had severe depression and were stabilised on Prozac, but continued to suffer from various sexual disorders caused by this antidepressant. In a double-blind study half the women were randomly assigned a 30mg/day supplement of saffron extract. The other half were given a placebo. All participants continued to take their usual dose of Prozac. The evaluations were made with the aid of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) (49). After 4 weeks the women in the saffron-group experienced a considerable improvement in the total sexual function (FSFI), excitement, lubrication and pain (49), in spite of the fact that all took the same antidepressant that had caused the undesirable sexual symptoms. Clearly: saffron offers a powerful, additional therapy for the treatment of the sexual side effects of antidepressants.

All the side effects of antidepressants

There are 119 published studies from twelve countries, as well as 99 notices on medicines from 10 countries which all indicate that antidepressants can cause the following undesirable effects (6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(70): abnormal bleeding or bruising, abnormal thoughts, agitation, aggression, serious agitation, anxiety, birth defects, black tongue, blurred vision or changes in vision, coma,
confusion, constipation, cramps, intense pain in the breast, death, reduced memory or concentration, delirium, delusions, depression, diabetes, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing or swallowing, dizziness or fainting, dry mouth, emotional numbing, extreme restlessness, fainting, hallucinations, headache, falling heart rate, heart attacks, homicidal thoughts or actions, animosity, hyperactivity, hypomania, sleeplessness, lethargy, liver problems, low white blood cell count, mania or manic reactions, loss of memory, mood swings, muscle spasms, nausea, nervousness, malignant neuroleptic syndrome, night sweats, nightmares, numbness in arms, panic attacks, paranoia, priapism, premature births, psychotic episodes, restlessness, risk of breast cancer, risk of falling, numbness, self-harm, epileptic attacks, serotonin syndrome, severe headache, severe muscular stiffness, sexual dysfunction, unsteadiness, shuffling walk, slow or difficulty with speech, miscarriage, stroke, suicidal thoughts or behaviour, violent behaviour, weight gain, withdrawal symptoms, yellow colouring of the skin or eyes.

Written by Bart Maes


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  • Slow Food saffron of the best quality (ISO 1), Jiloca, Spain
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Antidepressants cause serious side effects in more than 50% of patients.  Saffron offers a healthy solution Saffron is just as good as Prozac Saffron to boost your mood Saffron effective in treating gluttony and uncontrollable eating Saffron effective in treatment of anxiety attacks saffron to prevent and cure side effects of common antidepressants. saffron to prevent and cure side effects of common antidepressants. Saffron against burnout, anxiety attacks, gluttony, OCD