Saffron Extract Supplements – Health Benefits
Saffron spice is obtained from the saffron plant (Crocus sativus). Saffron extract is obtained from the dried stigmas of the crocus flowers. To make one pound of saffron spice, it takes about 75,000 floral blooms. The spice is heavily cultivated by hand using labor intensive methods. Due to this reason, the spice is fairly expensive and so are the supplements.
In traditional systems of medicine, saffron is prescribed for treating a number of diseases. It is believed that saffron is helpful in asthma, pertusis, cough, and sleep problems. It is also used as an expectorant. Modern studies have found that saffron is effective in the relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and wasting depression. Some studies also find that saffron helps in weight loss.
When used as a weight loss supplement, saffron reduces appetite and cravings. It is believed that saffron contains biochemicals which increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical which regulates the mood and controls hunger. By increasing serotonin levels in the body, saffron prevents compulsive overeating and associated weight gain.
A study published in the journal Nutrition Research in 2010 found that women who took saffron extract regularly regularly experienced a greater decrease in snacking and significant reduction in body weight. The authors of the study are of the opinion that saffron's mood enhancing properties may be liable for these findings.
Saffron extract supplements have also been found effective in the treatment of depression. A 2005 study published in the journal 'Phytotherapy Research' found that saffron extract was more effective when compared to placebo in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Another study published earlier in 2004 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that saffron is equally effective as imipramine in the treatment of depression.
Saffron extract has also been found helpful in relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. A study published in 2008 in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women showed improved results within two menstrual cycles after taking saffron supplements.
Saffron extract is safe when consumed in prescribed dosages. However, in some cases side effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness and headache may be observed. Saffron should never be taken in excess quantities as it can lead to poisoning. Symptoms of saffron poisoning including vomiting, bleeding and numbness.
Saffron supplements are available in most medical stores. They can also be purchased online. While purchasing any supplements, it is important for you to do your research properly. You should consult a nutritionist or a doctor before taking any supplements.