Background: Depression and anxiety are prevalent serious psychiatric disorders. Several drugs are used to treat these conditions but these are often associated with serious side effects. For this reason alternative therapies, including herbal medication such as saffron, have been proposed. We aimed to assess the effects of saffron extract for the treatment of anxiety and depression using a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial design.
Methods: Sixty adult patients with anxiety and depression were randomized to receive a 50 mg saffron capsule (Crocus sativus L. stigma) or a placebo capsule twice daily for 12 weeks. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) questionnaires were used at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks after initiating medication. 54 subjects completed the trial.
Results: Saffron supplements had a significant effect on the BDI and BAI scores of subjects in comparison to placebo at the 12 week time-point (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Saffron appears to have a significant impact in the treatment of anxiety and depression disorder. Side effects were rare.