Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.
The September-October 2015 issue of Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine published the finding of Iranian researchers of a beneficial effect for supplementation with saffron (Crocus Sativus) on the pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance of those with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms associated with an increase in the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of pro-oxidants and antioxidant defense in favor of pro-oxidants,” explain authors Tayyebeh Kermani of Birjand University of Medical Sciences and colleagues. “It is typically associated to augmented formation of reactive oxygen species, and is thought to play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis and development of cardiovascular disease and its related complications.”
In a randomized, double-blind trial, 75 men and women with metabolic syndrome received a placebo or 50 milligrams saffron twice daily for twelve weeks. Blood samples collected upon enrollment and at six and twelve weeks were analyzed for serum pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance.
At six and twelve weeks, serum pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance was significantly reduced among those who received saffron, indicating improvement in oxidative stress or antioxidant protection. The authors note that crocetin, a carotenoid found in saffron, and crocin, another saffron component, have free radical scavenging capabilities that may be responsible for the current study’s findings. They suggest that saffron may be useful in the prevention of some reactive oxygen species-related processes associated with the development of atherosclerosis.
“To our knowledge this relatively small preliminary randomized placebo-controlled study is the first investigation on the effect of saffron on pro-oxidant-antioxidant values in humans,” the authors announce. “Further studies should be undertaken in order to determine the exact constituent of saffron that has the greatest antioxidant effect, and the dosage required for optimum effect on pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance,” they conclude.