Saffron - an out of the box menopause herbal consideration
Dec 07, 2020
Although it may not be the first herb to come to mind for hot flushes it covers many of the common symptoms of the menopausal transition (and this even includes hot flushes!)
This spice truly has lasted the test of time, with its use going back to the 7th century BC. These days saffron is still very highly valued, so much so it’s the world’s most expensive spice!
As a medical herbalist, my primary use of Saffron is for mood disorders. Nicknamed the “sunshine spice” - it certainly can bring light into the darkest of moods. A quick PubMed search for medical research on Saffron found 99 entries looking at Saffron for Depression and 40 for Anxiety. The findings from these studies found Saffron to be significantly more effective than placebo and equal in effect to pharmaceutical anti-depressants. Saffron has also be tested together with antidepressant medication. The combination of anti-depressants and saffron was found to be a safe combination with a more effective outcome.
Most women I consult with are struggling with moods and this alone would be a fantastic reason to consider prescribing saffron. But wait until you see the list of other health benefits.
- Libido. This historic aphrodisiac increases blood flow to the pelvic region. It may increase arousal, lubrication, and pleasure.
- Insomnia. Saffron may improve sleep maintenance, and sleep quality. Women self-reported waking feeling more refreshed.
- Premenstrual syndrome (for those still menstruating) It may regulate premenstrual moods, and decrease breast tenderness and abdominal pain
- Fatigue, by fueling your mitochondria, saffron may increase not only your energy levels but your endurance capabilities as well.
- Cognition. Crocin is an active constituent of Saffron and it was found to increase cognitive ability and improve memory. There are some promising studies on this with Alzheimer's patients.
- Digestion. Saffron may optimise the microbiome, protect the gastric mucosa, and benefit various digestive conditions such as IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Metabolic syndrome, Saffron may help regulate blood sugar levels, improve diabetes, and many of its related complications while assisting with weight loss.
- Pain-relieving. Saffron is anti-inflammatory and may reduce pain and headaches
- Burning mouth syndrome. Saffron was found to be a safe and effective treatment option.
- Heart health. Saffron may help optimise cardiovascular function by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. Which brings me to one of the cautions with saffron. As saffron can lower blood pressure it may not be the correct choice of herb for those on blood pressure-lowering medication. If considering it, please speak to your health care provider first.
- Eye health. Saffron may help improve vision for those with age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other retinal diseases.
- HOT FLUSHES, full disclosure the only clinical trial I could find on hot flushes and saffron used postmenopausal women in the study. It found saffron to be a safe and effective way to reduce hot flushes.
Another caution worth mentioning is with bipolar or manic moods, best to speak with your health care provider first. Actually, I always recommend you speak with a health care professional and not self prescribe. In the case of Saffron, it has been consumed for almost as long as humanity itself so if you want to start by increasing it in your diet this is fine but to get the benefits discussed above you will need a therapeutic strength product and the ones I recommend require a script.