According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, saffron has traditionally been used since ancient times for strengthening digestion, relieving coughs, relaxing muscle spasms, improving mood, and calming anxiety. Modern science, however, best supports the spice’s use for treatment of depression.
According to five preliminary double-blind studies, use of saffron at 30 mg daily is more effective than placebo and equally effective as standard treatment for major depression. The research finding states crocin and safranal are believed to be the active components of saffron responsible for depression relief. Some studies compared the effects of saffron with fluoxetine, a common antidepressant, on the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. The final data revealed both the saffron and fluoxetine treatments resulted in significant improvements in depressive symptoms, with no difference in the amount of improvement between the two groups.