Impact of saffron (Crocus Sativus Linn) supplementation and resistance training on markers implicated in depression and happiness levels in untrained young males

Physiol Behav. 2021 May 1:233:113352. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2021.113352. Epub 2021 Feb 6.


Background: We aimed to assess the effects of six weeks of resistance training (RT) combined with saffron supplementation on markers implicated in depression as well as happiness levels in untrained young males.

Materials and methods: Untrained young male participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: RT + saffron supplement (RS; n = 14) or RT + placebo (RP; n = 14). For 6 weeks, participants in the RS group took one 150 mg pill of pure saffron immediately after each RT session and at the same time on non-training days. Those assigned to the RP group took a dextrose pill. Concentrations of Anandamide (AEA), 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), serotonin, dopamine, β-endorphin (beta-endorphin), tryptophan, happiness levels (via questionnaire), and body composition were assessed before and after the 6 weeks of whole-body supervised RT (4x/week, 3 sets using 60-70% of 1-repetition maximum [1-RM]).

Results: AEA (0.5 ng/ml), 2-AG (0.04 ng/ml), dopamine (0.7 ng/ml), and β-endorphin (9.4 pg/ml) concentrations significantly increased in the RS group (P<0.05) while no changes were detected in the RP group. Serotonin (RS = 1.7 ng/mL and RP = 1 ng/mL) concentrations and happiness levels significantly increased in both groups with greater changes in RS group while tryptophan concentrations remained unchanged (P> 0.05). In addition, both groups significantly increased muscular endurance with greater changes in RS group (P<0.05).

Conclusion: Six weeks of RT combined with saffron supplementation improved AEA, 2-AG, dopamine, β-endorphin, and serotonin concentrations. Moreover, the addition of saffron supplement to chronic RT results in greater improvements in happiness levels than RT alone.

Keywords: Body composition; Body fat percentage; Happiness; Resistance training; Saffron.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Crocus*
  • Depression
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Resistance Training*