Saffron Extract May Help Improve Mood
Saffron is a spice from the Crocus sativus flower, which is a cousin of the lily. The saffron derives from the stigma and styles within the flower itself. According to a new study, supplementation with saffron may help improve mood and quality of life.
Fifty-six adults with an average age of 36 participated in the study. All self-reported feelings of anxiety and/or stress and low mood. They were given 30 mg of saffron extract or a placebo daily for 8 weeks. They completed a number of psychological questionnaires, including the Profile of Mood States. They also performed an observed multitasking stressor test. Saliva samples were taken to measure cortisol and alpha-amylase response. Urinary samples were taken to measure crocetin levels, which is a carotenoid constituent of saffron.
Participants in the saffron group reported reduced depression scores and improved social relationships at the end of the study period. They also saw significant increases in urinary crocetin levels, which correlated with changes in depression scores. In addition, participants in the saffron group saw no changes in heart rate variability during the observed multitasking test. In comparison, participants in the placebo group saw a decrease in heart rate variability, which indicates an increase in stress.
The study was conducted by researchers from Northumbria University and University Bordeaux. It was published on February 1, 2021 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.