One of the costliest spices in the world, saffron is derived from the flowers of Crocus sativus, which are light purple in color and have a thread-like reddish-colored stigma. It is this stigma of the flower that is dried to make saffron. Did you know that one pound (or 450g) of saffron strands are made from 75,000 flowers and the process takes around 20 hours to complete?
Saffron has been used in folk medicine and Ayurveda due to its expectorant, anti-asthmatic, sedative, emmenagogue (inducing menstruation), and adaptogenic (stress-busting) properties. It has also been used in various opioid preparations for pain relief.
Saffron is packed with anti-nociceptive (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties. Animal studies suggest that crocetin, an active compound in saffron, causes a decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It has an antioxidant effect and stops lipid peroxidation—the process by which free radicals remove electrons from lipids (fats) in cells and damage them.
A meta-analysis that examined years of saffron research found that saffron could improve symptoms of depression such as excessive snacking, weight changes, premenstrual syndrome, sexual dysfunction and infertility.
Saffron For PMS Symptoms
According to studies, three out of four women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in some form or the other. PMS can cause a wide variety of symptoms such as mood swings, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression.
A clinical study that involved supplementation with 15mg saffron twice daily over the course of two menstrual cycles found that 76 percent of the group taking saffron observed that their PMS symptoms reduced by half than the ones who didn’t. Even depression was reduced by half in 60 percent of women on the saffron supplements.
How To Take It
- Just 30mg of saffron every day is enough to manage your PMS symptoms. Add 5-7 (about 15mg) strands of saffron to a glass of warm milk and have it twice daily to reduce your PMS symptoms.
1. Schmidt M, Betti G, Hensel A. Saffron in phytotherapy: pharmacology and clinical uses. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2007;157(13-14):315-9. Review. PubMed PMID: 17704979.
2. Hosseinzadeh H, Younesi HM. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of Crocus sativus L. stigma and petal extracts in mice. BMC Pharmacol. 2002 Mar 15;2:7. PubMed PMID: 11914135; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC101384.
3. Gainer JL, Jones JR. The use of crocetin in experimental atherosclerosis. Experientia. 1975 May 15;31(5):548-9. PubMed PMID: 1140250.
4. Chatterjee S, Poduval TB, Tilak JC, Devasagayam TP. A modified, economic, sensitive method for measuring total antioxidant capacities of human plasma and natural compounds using Indian saffron (Crocus sativus). Clin Chim Acta. 2005 Feb;352(1-2):155-63. PubMed PMID: 15653110.
5. Hausenblas HA, Heekin K, Mutchie HL, Anton S. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining the effectiveness of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) on psychological and behavioral outcomes. J Integr Med. 2015 Jul;13(4):231-40. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60176-5. PubMed PMID: 26165367.
6. Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, Ghoreishi A, Rahmanpour H, Zarrinara AR, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. BJOG. 2008 Mar;115(4):515-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01652.x. PubMed PMID: 18271889.