By Alina Hornfeldt
Saffron is known to many people as “the spice worth its weight in gold”. The beautifully red-colored strands are notable for being exotic, expensive and luxurious. But saffron has been gaining notoriety in the health and wellness industry lately as an addition to supplementation routines for better mood, increased libido and weight management.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world—a pound can cost anywhere between $500 and $5,000. The reason it is so costly is due to the painstaking method required to hand harvest the delicate strands. Coming from the Crocus sativus flower, saffron originated in Greece, where its medicinal properties are historically renowned.
The most popular and current use for supplementing with saffron is that it may improve mood and help treat depressive symptoms. Nicknamed “the sunshine spice”, saffron has shown in studies to be significantly more effective than placebos at treating mild-to-moderate depression symptoms. These studies also found that participants taking saffron reported fewer side effects than those using other treatments.
Another sunshiny benefit of saffron is fewer PMS symptoms. PMS refers to the days before menstruation when one may experience distressing symptoms that are disruptive to their daily lives, which may be physical, emotional or psychological. These include irritability, headaches, pain, cravings and more. Saffron taken at 30mg daily was more effective than a placebo taken by individuals 20 to 45 years of age in treating the broad range of PMS symptoms. One study found that just smelling saffron for 20 minutes helped to lower cortisol levels and decrease anxiety in PMS sufferers.
An aphrodisiac is a supplement that helps boost one’s libido. Saffron has been shown in studies to have aphrodisiac properties relating to erectile dysfunction, desire, lubrication and overall satisfaction in individuals taking 30mg daily. A healthy libido has been shown to improve mood and general well-being which can lead to a higher quality of life.
Weight management is an aspect of health that many Americans are interested in working on to achieve holistic wellness. Saffron has been shown to aid in curbing appetite to assist in the cessation of emotional eating and mindless snacking. Although researchers are unsure of exactly how saffron works in the body to curb appetite, in two individual eight-week studies, taking saffron significantly reduced appetite, total fat mass, body mass index and waist circumference. It is theorized that saffron works to elevate mood which in turn aids in achieving weight management goals.
Saffron has been highly prized for centuries, and we are just beginning to understand how and why. As well as a potentially beneficial supplement for depression and PMS, libido and weight management, studies are being done to find out how saffron benefits memory, free radical damage, fights cancer and reduces heart disease. Saffron may be difficult to add into your everyday diet, but quick and easy with which to supplement. Considered generally safe and with no side effects, we will be seeing this super supplement incorporated into many people’s routines. After all, everyone deserves some sunshine in their day.