Background: In recent years phytotherapy has been explored as a source for alternative treatments for mood disorders. One potential candidate is saffron (Crocus sativus L.), whose main bioactive components are crocins and safranal.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of affron®, a standardised stigmas extract from Crocus sativus L. for improving mood, stress, anxiety and sleep quality in healthy adults.
Methods: In this 3 arm study, 128 participants self-reporting low mood but not diagnosed with depression, were given affron® at 28mg/day, 22mg/day, or a placebo treatment in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial for 4 weeks. Mood was measured at baseline and at the end of the study, using the POMS (primary outcome measure) and PANAS questionnaires, and the DASS-21 scale. Sleep was monitored using Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).
Results: Analysis indicated a significant decrease in negative mood and symptoms related to stress and anxiety at a 28mg/day dose (with a significant difference between 28mg/day and placebo on the POMS Total Mood Disturbance scale, p<0.001, d=-1.10), but no treatment effect at the 22mg/day dose.
Limitations: The main weaknesses of this investigation were found in the self-reporting nature of both the screening and the testing.
Conclusions: affron® increased mood, reduced anxiety and managed stress without side effects, offering a natural alternative to standard treatments.
Keywords: Clinical trial; Depression; Mood disorders; Phytonutrient; Saffron extract.
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