Background: Depression and anxiety are prevalent serious psychiatric disorders. Several drugs are used to treat these conditions but these are often associated with serious side effects. For this reason alternative therapies, including herbal medication such as saffron, have been proposed. We aimed to assess the effects of saffron extract for the treatment of anxiety and depression using a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial design.
Methods: Sixty adult patients with anxiety and depression were randomized to receive a 50 mg saffron capsule (Crocus sativus L. stigma) or a placebo capsule twice daily for 12 weeks. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) questionnaires were used at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks after initiating medication. 54 subjects completed the trial.
Results: Saffron supplements had a significant effect on the BDI and BAI scores of subjects in comparison to placebo at the 12 week time-point (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Saffron appears to have a significant impact in the treatment of anxiety and depression disorder. Side effects were rare.
The authors wish to thank the Iran National Science Foundation, Birjand University of Medical Sciences and Mashhad University of Medical Sciences for their financial support in performing this trial. This work is part of Maryam Shemshian’s MSc thesis; grant number (A-323).
Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.
Research funding: Mashhad University of Medical Sciences. A-323.
Employment or leadership: None declared.
Honorarium: None declared.
Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.
1. AkhondzadehBasti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Abbasi SH, Akhondzadeh S. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2007;31:439–42. Search in Google Scholar
2. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994. Search in Google Scholar
3. Demyttenaere K. Compliance during treatment with antidepressants. J Affect Disord 1997;43:27–39. Search in Google Scholar
4. Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tamacebi-pour N, Jamshidi AH. Hydroalcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Ethnopharmacology 2005;97:281–4. Search in Google Scholar
5. Thachil AF, Mohan R, Bhugra D. The evidence base of complementary and alternative therapies in depression. J Affect Disord 2007;97:23–35. Search in Google Scholar
6. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000. Search in Google Scholar
7. Antai-Otong D. Current treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv 2003;41:20–9. Search in Google Scholar
8. Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, HesameddinAbbasi S, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine 2006;13:607–11. Search in Google Scholar
9. Kermani T, Mousavi SH, Shemshian M, Norouzy A, Mazidi M, Moezzi A, et al. Saffron supplements decrease serum prooxidant-antioxidant balance in patients with metabolic syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Avicenna J Phytomed 2015, Epub ahead of print. Search in Google Scholar
10. Mazidi M, Baghban Taraghdari S, Rezaee P, Kamgar M, Jomezadeh MR, Akbarieh Hasani O, et al. The effect of hydroalcoholic extract of Cannabis Sativa on appetite hormone in rat. J Complement Integr Med 2014;11:253–7. Search in Google Scholar
11. Rios JL, Recio MC, Giner RM, Manez S. An update review of saffron and its active constituents. Phytother Res 1996;10:189–93. Search in Google Scholar
12. Hosseinzadeh H, Younesi H. Petal and stigma extracts of Crocus sativus L. have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in mice. BMC Pharmacol 2002;2:7. Search in Google Scholar
13. Karimi G, Hosseinzadeh H, Khaleghpanah P. Study of antidepressant effect of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of Crocus sativus in mice. Iranian J Basic Med Sci 2001;4:11–15. Search in Google Scholar
14. Akhondzadeh S, Tamacebi-pour N, Noorbala AA, Amini H, Fallah Pour H, Jamshidi AH, et al. Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo controlled trial. Phytother Res 2005;19:25–9. Search in Google Scholar
15. Rezaie P, Mazidi M, Nematy M. Ghrelin, food intake, and botanical extracts: A Review. Avicenna J Phytomed 2015, Epub ahead of print. Search in Google Scholar
16. Hosseinzadeh H, Noraei NB. Anxiolytic and hypnotic effect of Crocus sativus aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, in mice. Phytother Res 2009;23:768–74. Search in Google Scholar
17. Beck AT, Steer RA. Beck depression inventory manual. New York: Guildford Press, 1993. Search in Google Scholar
18. Judd L. Mood disorders in the general population represent an important and worldwide public health problem. Int J Clin Psychopharm 1995;10:5–10. Search in Google Scholar
19. Akhondzadeh S, Fallah Pour H, Afkham K, Jamshidi AH, Khalighi-Cigarodi F. Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern Med 2004; 4:12. Search in Google Scholar
20. Georgiadou G, Tarantilis PA, Pitsikas N. Effects of the active constituents of Crocus Sativus L., crocins, in an animal model of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neurosci Lett 2012;528:27–30. Search in Google Scholar
21. Wang Y, Han T, Zhu Y, Zheng CJ, Ming QL, Rahman K, et al. Antidepressant properties of bioactive fractions from the extract of Crocus sativus L. J Nat Med 2010;64:24–30. Search in Google Scholar
22. Baghban Taraghdari S, Nematy M, Mazidi M, Kamgar M, Soukhtanloo M, Hosseini M, et al. The effect of hydro-alcoholic extract of Artemisia absinthiumon appetite in male rats. Avicenna J Phytomed 2015;5:78–83. Search in Google Scholar
©2016 by De Gruyter