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Last modified on November 17th, 2022
Dealing with stubborn weight isn’t easy, but some supplements can help. One is the use of saffron supplements for weight loss. Below we’ll talk more about the general benefits of saffron supplements and specifically focus on the use of saffron supplements for weight loss.
What Is Saffron?
Saffron is used in cooking, but traditional healers have relied on it for thousands of years to help detox, digestion, and even tumors. Saffron is what gives recipes like paella their bright gold color, and the flavor is distinct and like nothing else, so what about the benefits of saffron outside of the kitchen?
Saffron comes from the crocus sativus flower, a relative of the iris. It’s the world’s most expensive spice, giving foods an intense aroma and flavor. You can find it sold as threads or use it in its ground form if you’re cooking with it.
The reason saffron is so costly is because of how it’s harvested and a labor-intensive harvesting method, making it costly to produce.
Some of the health-related benefits of saffron include the following:
- Antioxidant properties: Saffron has a number of plant compounds that act as antioxidants, protecting your cells against oxidative stress and free radicals. Antioxidants in saffron include crocin, crocetin, kaempferol, and safranal.
- Helps with mood and depressive symptoms: Saffron is sometimes called the sunshine spice because of its color and onnit new mood-boosting properties. In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were much more effective than a placebo for treating mild-to-moderate depression. Other studies have found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily is as effective as traditional depression treatments like Fluoxetine and Citalopram, with fewer side effects. Saffron can raise dopamine levels in the brain without changing the levels of other brain hormones like serotonin.
- Cancer-fighting properties: Since saffron is highly antioxidant, it may help reduce free radicals linked to cancer and other chronic diseases. In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds selectively killed colon cancer cells or suppressed their growth. The same has been found in test-tube studies looking at bone marrow, skin, prostate, cervix, breast, and other cancer cell lines. Test-tube studies have also found that crocin may sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy. While these anti-cancer effects look promising, more research on humans needs to be done.
- Reducing PMS symptoms: Premenstrual syndrome or PMS can describe physical, mental, and emotional effects before starting a menstrual period. In women between the ages of 25-40, 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than a placebo for treating symptoms including cravings, headaches, pain, and irritability. Smelling saffron for 20 minutes also helped reduce PMS symptoms, including anxiety, and lowered cortisol levels.
- Aphrodisiac effects: An aphrodisiac is a food or supplement that can increase your libido, and saffron might have these effects, especially in people who take antidepressants. Taking 30 mg of saffron a day for four weeks significantly improved erectile function over placebo in men with erectile dysfunction (ED) related to antidepressant use. In women with low sexual desire related to antidepressants, 30 mg of saffron daily for four weeks increased sexual desire and lubrication and reduced sex-related pain compared to a placebo.
- Heart health: In some animal and test tube studies, saffron’s antioxidant properties have been found to prevent blood vessels and arteries from becoming clogged and may lower blood cholesterol.
- Blood sugar: In test tubes and animal studies, saffron helps lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
- Age-related macular degeneration: In studies of adults with age-related macular degeneration, saffron appears to improve eyesight.
- Cognitive function: Saffron as a supplement may improve cognition in adults with Alzheimer’s, possibly because of its antioxidant properties.
Saffron Supplements for Weight Loss—How Do They Help?
While it has some fantastic benefits, you may wonder about using saffron supplements for weight loss.
Saffron supplements for weight loss can help in a few ways. First, they can help reduce your appetite, according to currently available research. In one study that ran for eight weeks, women taking saffron supplements felt fuller, snacked less often, and lost more weight than women in a placebo group.
In another eight-week study, a saffron supplement helped reduce appetite and total fat mass, body mass index, and weight circumference.
Researchers aren’t sure why saffron supplements for weight loss seem to work, but the theory is that they elevate your mood, reduce your desire to snack, and eliminate cravings for less healthy foods. Plus, if your mood is elevated, you’re also likely to feel more motivated and energized, so you might be more likely to exercise than you would otherwise.
Neurotransmitters can play a significant role in eating and snacking habits, so it stands to reason that a supplement that can affect brain chemicals can also affect eating and weight loss.
How to Take Saffron Supplements for Weight Loss
There are varying ways you can get the health advantages of saffron. You can cook it with the spice or brew it into tea. To do this, you can add a few strands into hot water.
You can also take saffron supplements for weight loss, which is convenient and cost-effective.
As a supplement, there aren’t any standard dosage guidelines because the FDA does not regulate it. Based on current research, people can safely take up to 1.5 grams of saffron a day, but 30 mg of saffron is the typical dosage used in research studies.
Anything more than 5 grams a day can have toxic effects. Pregnant women should not take high doses of saffron, as it may raise the risk of miscarriage.
When you buy a saffron supplement, you want to make sure you’re choosing one that’s as pure as possible. You don’t want products mixed with other ingredients, which manufacturers will sometimes do because saffron is expensive. You need to find a reputable brand if you want to try a saffron supplement. Our recommendations for great saffron supplements include:
- Life Extension Optimized Saffron
- Amen BrainMD, Happy Saffron Plus
- NOW Supplements Saffron Whole Herb 10% Crocins
Final Thoughts—Saffron Supplements for Weight Loss
A saffron supplement can be a powerful addition to your health and wellness routine. Saffron can help with weight loss, and although researchers are sure precisely why, they think it has to do with the spice’s effects on brain neurotransmitters. The positive effects of saffron on dopamine and brain chemicals may reduce cravings and appetite and help you feel more energized and upbeat, contributing to weight loss.
Cleveland Clinic. “Spicy Saffron Could Benefit Your Health.” July 6, 2022. Accessed September 19, 2022.
Jackson, Philippa A. et al. “Effects of Saffron Extract Supplementation on Mood, Well-Being and Response to a Psychosocial Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel Group Clinical Trial.” Frontiers in Nutrition, February 2021. Accessed September 19, 2022.
Bongiorno, Peter ND, Lac. “Saffron for Emotional Health.” Psychology Today, January 10, 2016. Accessed September 19, 2022.
Lashay, Alireza, et al. “Short-term Outcomes of Saffron Supplementation in Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Randomized Trial.” NIH National Library of Medicine, 2016. Accessed September 19, 2022.
Shakeri, Masihollah, et al. “Toxicity of Saffron Extracts on Cancer and Normal Cells: A Review Article.” Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, July 2020. Accessed September 19, 2022.