Natural Depression Relief: The Spice Saffron

saffron-plant-AngelaLLop-flickr.jpg

Some doctors and alternative medical practitioners recommend the spice saffron for depression relief. Why would saffron help?

One theory is that saffron supports, even helps heal the digestive system, and most neurotransmitters are manufactured in the digestive tract. Healthy intestines will naturally produce more mood-lifting neurotransmitters.

Studies on saffron for depression are scarce, but they indicate it is effective for mild to moderate depressive symptoms and may help with severe ones. In one double-blind study pitting saffron against Prozac, 60 clinically depressed people took either saffron or Prozac for six weeks. The drop in symptoms over the six-week period was significant and nearly identical for both substances.

Although saffron is an expensive spice, reputable brand supplements of whole ground saffron start at around $10.00 for a bottle of 60 capsules. (It is always a good idea to check with your doctor or psychiatrist before adding supplements to your treatment regimen.)

A Versatile Spice

Saffron, or Crocus sativus, is part of the iris plant family. It is mentioned in the writings of early physicians such as Hippocrates as a treatment for stomach problems, colds and coughs, heart trouble, insomnia, and scarlet fever.

This Persian spice is pricey because it is cultivated and harvested today as it was centuries ago. Village women remove three saffron stigmas or “threads” from each flower and it takes 50,000 to 75,000 flowers to create a pound of saffron spice. Fortunately, in an airtight container it remains fresh several years.

The first use of saffron by humans might have been to dye cloth. Just one grain of saffron can turn ten gallons of water yellow. The distinctive orange robes of Buddhist monks are colored by Saffron. Most of us in the West are familiar with saffron as a pungent kitchen spice.

Nutrition Benefits of Saffron

An ounce of saffron provides 400 percent of our daily requirement for manganese, plus the following:

  • Potassium and vitamin B6: 14%
  • Iron and Magnesium: 17% and 18%
  • Vitamin C: 38%
  • A variety of powerful antioxidants and carotenoids

These nutrients are important for calcium absorption, blood glucose regulation, carbohydrate metabolism, fighting infection, fluid balance, healthy sex hormones, and tissue formation. However, most recipes require an eighth to a half teaspoon of saffron. It is unlikely we would consume an ounce at one meal. Still, it is an impressive and intriguing spice.

Note: If you plan to purchase saffron, watch out for pretenders. Indian safflower (or compositae) and “meadow saffron” (Colchicum autumnale) are saffron look-a-likes but have different chemical qualities.

Sources: Dr Mercola; Nutrition Facts; DrOz

 
disclaimer

The information provided on the PsyWeb.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of PsyWeb.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

PsyWeb Poll

Are you currently taking or have you ever been prescribed anti-depressants?
Yes
50%
No
50%
Total votes: 3979