In a new study published in Pharmacopsychiatry, Crocus sativus L. versus citalopram in the treatment of major depressive disorder with anxious distress: a double-blind, controlled clinical trial, saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has been shown to have both antidepressant and antianxiety effects. It’s also anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.
In this study patients received either saffron or an SSRI called citalopram/Celexa:
66 patients with major depressive disorder accompanied by anxious distress were randomly assigned to receive either saffron (30 mg/day) or citalopram (40 mg/day) for 6 weeks.
The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D) and Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety (HAM-A) were used to assess the effectiveness of the treatment during the study.
60 participants finished the study and they all showed significant improvement in depression and anxiety scores, with no significant difference in effectiveness or side effects from either the saffron or citalopram.
The authors make this conclusion:
The present study indicates saffron as a potential efficacious and tolerable treatment for major depressive disorder with anxious distress.
saffron’s antidepressant effects potentially are due to its serotonergic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro-endocrine and neuroprotective effects
This means that saffron could potentially be used in place tryptophan or 5-HTP if you score high on the low serotonin section of the amino acid questionnaire (anxiety, worry-in-the head, obsessiveness, negativity and depression, irritability, PMS, afternoon and evening cravings and insomnia) and yet do not seem to benefit from either of these two amino acids.
And you’ll be getting the added antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuro-endocrine and neuroprotective effects.
If you do well with tryptophan and/or 5-HTP, I suspect that using a small amount of saffron together with these amino acids could enhance the effects.
I have yet to use saffron with my clients so I’d love to hear from you (so we all can benefit and learn from each other):
- Have you used saffron and found it to be effective for your anxiety and/or depression?
- If you’re a practitioner, have you used it with patients or clients?
- Have you found 30 mg a day to be the most effective dose and how quickly have you noticed benefits? What symptoms have improved the most?
- Have you combined saffron with tryptophan or 5-HTP?