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4 Surprising Health Benefits of Saffron


I once had a roommate from Spain who made the most wonderful rice dish using saffron that she had brought from her country. While the spice imparts considerable flavor in food, it also has an array of health benefits. Down through the centuries, it has been used to treat various maladies such as insomnia, coughs and intestinal disorders. Studies in modern times provide evidence that it, indeed, has some of the medicinal properties for which it has been revered.

Among spices, saffron is one of the highest sources of manganese, a mineral needed for absorbing calcium, regulating blood sugar and forming tissues, sex hormones and bones. The spice also contains powerful antioxidants and carotenoids that help curb free radical damage from head to towd, along with other compounds that assist multiple body functions. Research indicates the spice has many different medicinal properties, but here are 4 we’re particularly excited about.

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1. Curbs Vision Loss and Improves Eyesight

In several studies, the saffron spice was found to have a positive influence on eyesight. Not only was it shown to improve retinal flicker sensitivity in just three months, it also gave a significant boost to visual acuity. When patients in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration supplemented with saffron for just 3 months, they saw visual acuity improve by two whole lines on the standard Snellen line eye chart.

2. Alleviates Depression

According to Psychology Today, a number of studies suggest the saffron compounds safranal and crocin have antidepressant effects. They produce this action by balancing the brain neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Studies comparing the compounds to antidepressants found saffron was more effective than imipramine, an older medication, and nearly as effective as Prozac, a newer medication.

3. Improves Symptoms of Cognitive Decline

Several studies show saffron may have neuroprotective properties that can slow cognitive decline. In a 22-week study involving 54 people with Alzheimer’s, the participants daily received either 30 milligrams (mg) of saffron or 10 mg of donepezil, a medication used to slow the progression of the disease. The results, appearing in the journal Psychopharmacology, revealed that saffron appeared as effective as the drug. Researchers suspect this benefit stems from the spice’s ability to suppress the growth of amyloid B plaque in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s.

4. Relieves Premenstrual Syndrome

A clinical trial published in the journal BJOG compared the effects of saffron with a placebo in women with premenstrual syndrome: those who received 15 mg of the spice twice a day experienced relief from their symptoms. Moreover, a study in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine also found 30 mg of saffron once a day relieved premenstrual symptoms.

While the above uses are supported by research, a few studies suggest saffron may have value for a broad range of other ailments as well. However, the evidence is not yet robust enough to advocate taking the spice for them. Such maladies include, but are not limited to, insomnia, macular degeneration, asthma, glaucoma and vomiting.


Because the spice decreases blood pressure, it isn’t recommended for people who have low blood pressure.

High doses of 5 grams (5,000 mg) or more can be dangerously toxic. For depression, the advised dose is 30 mg per day of the extract for 12 weeks; while for Alzheimer’s disease, the dose is 30 mg per day of the extract for 22 weeks. Those who would like to take saffron for a period longer than 12 to 22 weeks may include the spice, not the extract, in their food.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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