Objective: The medicinal plants Rhodiola rosea L. (rhodiola, golden root) and Crocus sativus L. (saffron) have been shown separately to induce significant effects in depression. The objective of this study was to assess a fixed combination of rhodiola and saffron in mild-moderate depression.
Methods: In this observational study conducted with general practitioners (GPs), 45 adults (aged 18-85 years) suffering from mild or moderate depression (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision definition) and reaching a score on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression of 8-18 were supplemented with a combination of rhodiola and saffron extracts (one tablet, 154 mg of rhodiola and 15 mg of saffron; recommended dose two tablets per day for 6 weeks).
Results: After 6 weeks (D42) of supplementation, Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores (primary outcome) decreased significantly by 58%±28.5% (from 13.6±2.3 at D0 to 5.6±3.8 at D42, P<0.0001; n=41). Score improvement was reported in 85.4% of patients. A significant drop in both Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety and depression scores was also observed at D42, the decrease being significant from 2 weeks of supplementation. At the end of the study, both GPs and patients deemed there was a significant improvement in depression (Clinical Global Impression - improvement and Patient Global Impression of Change). Safety was excellent, and no serious adverse effects were recorded.
Conclusion: Results of this observational study performed in primary care suggest that the combination of rhodiola and saffron tested could be useful for the management of mild-moderate depression and improve depressive and anxiety symptoms. A double-blind placebo-controlled study is needed to confirm these results.
Keywords: Crocus sativus; Rhodiola rosea; anxiety; major depressive disorder.