Saffron extract from Pharmactive may boost melatonin levels according to recent study


A recent animal study found that Pharmactive’s branded saffron extract, affron, helped boost the body’s endogenous production of melatonin.

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A recent animal study1 found that Pharmactive’s branded saffron extract, affron, helped boost the body’s endogenous production of melatonin. In the study, adult male rats were given 150 mg/kg of affron daily, or placebo for seven days. The intervention was administered an hour before sleep.

The researchers explain that melatonin is synthesized from tryptophan, however 95% of tryptophan is metabolized in the liver via the kynurenine pathway, leaving only 5% for other purposes, including melatonin synthesis. In the liver, tryptophan is converted into kynurenine by the enzymes indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO). Results showed that supplementation significantly increased serum levels of melatonin and decreased serum concentrations of kynurenine.

“Results of a previous clinical study showed that Pharmactive’s potent saffron extract significantly improves sleep quality, helps to support mood balance after awakenings, reduce sleep-onset latency, ease difficulties in falling asleep, and allow for more continuous and less-interrupted slumber,” says Alberto Espinel, open innovation and IP director for Pharmactive, in a press release. “The new study clarifies the mechanism for affron’s positive effects on sleep, providing solid scientific support to the previous studies.”

According to the researchers, between 10% and 20% of adults are affected by sleep disorders. On top of this, these sleep disorders are associated with short term alterations such as stress response or impaired cognitive function like poor decision-making and memory formation, as well as long term alterations such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and the development of psychiatric disorders.

In the study, researchers also observed that subjects taking the saffron extract experienced significant reductions in body weight gain without significant changes to daily food intake, as well as decreased levels of LDL cholesterol.

“Better sleep is as much about good sleep as it is about duration of sleep,” added Espinel. “Supported by previous studies on affron's ability to act as a natural sleeping agent, this latest study demonstrates that it is actively involved in aiding the body’s natural capacity to fall asleep and stay asleep.”


Muñoz, M.D.L.F.; Román-Carmena, M.; Amor, S.; García-Villalón, A.L.; Espinel, A.E.; González-Hedström, D.; Garcia, M.G. Effects of Supplementation with the Standardized Extract of Saffron (affron®) on the Kynurenine Pathway and Melatonin Synthesis in Rats. Antioxidants. 2023, 12 (8): 1619. DOI:

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