Saffron may boost mood for postmenopausal women: RCT

By Olivia DeSmit

- Last updated on GMT

© orinoco-art / Getty Images
© orinoco-art / Getty Images

Related tags saffron women's health Postmenopausal women happiness

Postmenopausal women who consumed saffron reported higher happiness levels, says a new study from Iran published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

“Evidence suggests that menopause can be associated with a variety of negative psychological changes such as depression and anxiety,” wrote researchers from Larestan University of Medical Sciences and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. “And improving the mental health status of women during menopause is one of the important priorities and challenges of the health system.”

Non-pharmacological — or complementary — treatments for mental health concerns during menopause include yoga, acupuncture, hypnosis, aromatherapy and herbal teas. For this study, saffron was boiled to make tea.

Saffron for relief

Extracts of saffron have been shown to have several therapeutic benefits, including relief of mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety, and stress. There is also growing evidence from clinical trials of saffron extract’s beneficial effects on sleep. 

“From the past to the present, saffron and its main derivatives, as well as organoleptic properties, are commonly used in traditional medicine due to their numerous therapeutic properties such as anti-anxiety, anti-depressant, and anti-seizure effects,” the researchers wrote.

Each saffron plant (Crocus sativus​) produces only one flower with a three-branched stigma emerging from its style. The saffron stigmas are the red-colored, thread-like parts of the female organ of the flower, each weighing only 2-2.5 mg. Traditionally, saffron planting, harvesting, and processing is done by hand. The time-consuming labor required makes saffron the most expensive spice in the world, with wholesale and retail saffron prices ranging from $500 to $5,000 per pound.

Study details

The randomized controlled study included a total of 72 participants, who were evenly assigned to either an intervention or control group. Participants in the intervention group consumed 30 milligrams of dried saffron stigma in the form of tea for six weeks. The saffron was boiled for 10 to 15 minutes, and white rock candy was added. Those in the control group consumed hot water with white rock candy. Happiness measures were assessed using the Oxford Happiness Questionnaire at the end of the second and fourth week of the test period. 

For women in the intervention group, the happiness mean score increased significantly between the start of the trial and the end. The authors also found a significant difference in the happiness score between the intervention group after treatment and the control group.

“Hopefully, the results of this study will be an effective step in recognizing complementary and alternative medicine treatments, especially the use of herbal teas, in the nursing community, and can alleviate the patients' pain,” the authors wrote.

Source: BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
2023,​ 23, 176, doi: 10.1186/s12906-023-04014-8
“The effect of Crocus sativus​ L. (saffron) herbal tea on happiness in postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial”
Authors: H. Delam, et al.

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