A recently published study found that a standardized saffron extract (Affron from Pharmactive Biotech Products, Madrid, Spain) may be a beneficial adjunct to antidepressants. In the eight-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology1, 160 subjects currently taking antidepressants were randomized to receive either placebo or the saffron extract.
Results showed that subjects taking the saffron extract experienced a significant 41% decrease of depressive symptoms, compared to placebo (21%). This was based on the clinician-rated Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). On the other hand, scores of the self-rated MADRS (MADRS-S) showed only a 27 and 26% decrease in depressive symptoms for subjects taking saffron and placebo, respectively. There were also no significant differences in quality of life between groups.
“These results strongly suggest that Affron could be safely used with pharmaceutical antidepressants in adults continuing to experience mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms,” says Alberto Espinel, head of research and development at Pharmactive. “Additionally, the results suggested Affron supplementation may reduce some of the side effects from antidepressants.”
1. Lopresti AL et al. “Efficacy of a standardised saffron extract (affron®) as an add-on to antidepressant medication for the treatment of persistent depressive symptoms in adults: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, vol. 33, no. 11 (2019)