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Abstracts

Life Extension Magazine July 2013
Abstracts  

Saffron

Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.

Depression is a serious disorder in today’s society, with estimates of lifetime prevalence as high as 21% of the general population in some developed countries. As a therapeutic plant, saffron is considered excellent for stomach ailments and as an antispasmodic, to help digestion and to increase appetite. It is also used for depression in Persian traditional medicine. Our objective was to assess the efficacy of the stigmas of Crocus sativus (saffron) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in a 6-week double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized trial. Forty adult outpatients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition for major depression based on the structured clinical interview for DSM IV participated in the trial. Patients had a baseline Hamilton rating scale for depression score of at least 18. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-centre and randomized trial, patients were randomly assigned to receive a capsule of saffron 30 mg[sol ]day (BD) (Group 1) or a capsule of placebo (BD) (Group 2) for a 6-week study. At 6 weeks, Crocus sativus produced a significantly better outcome on the Hamilton depression rating scale than the placebo (d.f. = 1, F = 18.89, p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of the observed side effects. The results of this study indicate the efficacy of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. A large-scale trial is justified.

Phytother Res. 2005 Feb;19(2):148-51

Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial.

Depressive disorders are very common in clinical practice, with approximately 11.3 of all adults afflicted during any a year. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice and apart from its traditional value as a food additive, recent studies indicate several therapeutic effects for saffron. It is used for depression in Persian traditional medicine. Our objective was to compare the efficacy of hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus (stigma) with fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression in a 6-week double-blind, randomized trial. Forty adult outpatients who met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition for major depression based on the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV and with mild to moderate depression participated in the trial. In this double-blind, single-center trial and randomized trial, patients were randomly assigned to receive capsules of saffron 30 mg/day (BD) (Group 1) and capsule of fluoxetine 20 mg/day (BD) (Group 2) for a 6-week study. Saffron at this dose was found to be effective similar to fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression (F = 0.13, d.f. = 1, P = 0.71). There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of observed side effects. The results of this study indicate the efficacy of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. A large-scale trial is justified.

J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):281-4

Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.

WHAT IS KNOWN: Herbal medicines have been used in the treatment of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia but with variable response. Crocus sativus (saffron) may inhibit the aggregation and deposition of amyloid β in the human brain and may therefore be useful in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to assess the efficacy of saffron in the treatment of mild to moderate AD. METHODS: Forty-six patients with probable AD were screened for a 16-week, double-blind study of parallel groups of patients with mild to moderate AD. The psychometric measures, which included AD assessment scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog), and clinical dementia rating scale-sums of boxes, were performed to monitor the global cognitive and clinical profiles of the patients. Patients were randomly assigned to receive capsule saffron 30 mg/day (15 mg twice per day) (Group A) or capsule placebo (two capsules per day) for a 16-week study. RESULTS: After 16 weeks, saffron produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function than placebo (ADAS-cog: F=4·12, d.f.=1, P=0·04; CDR: F=4·12, d.f.=1, P=0·04). There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of observed adverse events. WHAT IS NEW AND CONCLUSION: This double-blind, placebo-controlled study suggests that at least in the short-term, saffron is both safe and effective in mild to moderate AD. Larger confirmatory randomized controlled trials are called for.

J Clin Pharm Ther. 2010 Oct;35(5):581-8

A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

RATIONALE: There is increasing evidence to suggest the possible efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) in the management of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present investigation was to assess the efficacy of C. sativus in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate AD. METHODS: Fifty-four Persian-speaking adults 55 years of age or older who were living in the community were eligible to participate in a 22-week, double-blind study of parallel groups of patients with AD. The main efficacy measures were the change in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-cognitive subscale and Clinical Dementia Rating Scale-Sums of Boxes scores compared with baseline. Adverse events (AEs) were systematically recorded. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a capsule saffron 30 mg/day (15 mg twice per day) or donepezil 10 mg/day (5 mg twice per day). RESULTS: Saffron at this dose was found to be effective similar to donepezil in the treatment of mild-to-moderate AD after 22 weeks. The frequency of AEs was similar between saffron extract and donepezil groups with the exception of vomiting, which occurred significantly more frequently in the donepezil group. CONCLUSION: This phase II study provides preliminary evidence of a possible therapeutic effect of saffron extract in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2010 Jan;207(4): 637-43

Effects of the active constituents of Crocus sativus L., crocins, in an animal model of anxiety.

Crocus sativus L. is a plant cultivated in various parts of the world. Crocins are among the active components of Crocus sativus L. The present study was designed to investigate in the rat whether or not crocins possess anxiolytic properties. For this aim, the light/dark test was selected. Either crocins, at a dose which did not influence animals’ motor activity (50mg/kg), or diazepam (1.5 mg/kg), significantly increased the latency to enter the dark compartment and prolonged the time spent in the lit chamber in the rats. Conversely, lower doses of crocins (15-30 mg/kg) did not substantially modify animals’ behaviour. The present results indicate that treatment with these active constituents of Crocus sativus L. induce anxiolytic-like effects in the rat.

Phytomedicine. 2008 Dec;15(12):1135-9

Anxiolytic and hypnotic effect of Crocus sativus aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, in mice.

Saffron stigma (Crocus sativus L.) is used for insomnia and anxiety in traditional medicine. In this study, the anxiolytic and hypnotic effects of saffron aqueous extract and its constituents, crocin and safranal, were studied in mice. Agents were administered intraperitoneally in mice before the experiments for the evaluation of hypnotic activity (induced by sodium pentobarbital, 30 mg/kg, i.p.), anxiolytic activity (elevated plus maze test), locomotor activity (open field test) and motor coordination (Rotarod test). The aqueous extract reduced the locomotor activity dose dependently. At low doses, saffron showed a significant increase in the time on the open arms of the maze. When using the Rotarod method, the aqueous extract showed considerable effect on motor coordination of the mice. In the hypnotic test, only a dose of 0.56 g/kg of saffron increased the total sleep. Crocin showed no anxiolytic, hypnotic or myorelaxation effects. Safranal, in higher doses, 0.15 and 0.35 mL/kg, showed anxiolytic effects. Safranal increased the total sleep time dose dependently. This constituent at lower doses (0.05 and 0.15 mL/kg) decreased some locomotion activity parameters. Safranal demonstrated no effects on motor coordination. The results showed that saffron aqueous extract and safranal have anxiolytic and hypnotic effects.

Phytother Res. 2009 Jun;23(6):768-74

Effects of the active constituents of Crocus Sativus L., crocins, in an animal model of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Crocins are among the active components of the plant Crocus Sativus L. C. Sativus L. and its constituents were effective in different models of psychiatric disorders including anxiety and depression. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common psychiatric disorder defined by the presence of obsessive thoughts and repetitive compulsive actions. The non selective serotonin (5-HT) receptor agonist mCPP is known to induce OCD-like behavior (excessive self-grooming) in rodents and exacerbate symptoms in patients with OCD. The present study investigated whether or not crocins were able to counteract excessive self-grooming induced by mCPP (0.6 mg/kg, i.p.) in rats. Crocins (30 and 50 mg/kg, i.p.) attenuated mCPP-induced excessive self-grooming. The present results also indicate that these effects of crocins on an animal model of OCD cannot be attributed to changes in locomotor activity. Our findings suggest that the active constituents of C. Sativus L. crocins might play a role in compulsive behavior and support a functional interaction between crocins and the serotonergic system.

Neurosci Lett. 2012 Oct 18;528(1):27-30

Satiereal, a Crocus sativus L extract, reduces snacking and increases satiety in a randomized placebo-controlled study of mildly overweight, healthy women.

Snacking is an uncontrolled eating behavior, predisposing weight gain and obesity. It primarily affects the female population and is frequently associated with stress. We hypothesized that oral supplementation with Satiereal (Inoreal Ltd, Plerin, France), a novel extract of saffron stigma, may reduce snacking and enhance satiety through its suggested mood-improving effect, and thus contribute to weight loss. Healthy, mildly overweight women (N = 60) participated in this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study that evaluated the efficacy of Satiereal supplementation on body weight changes over an 8-week period. Snacking frequency, the main secondary variable, was assessed by daily self-recording of episodes by the subjects in a nutrition diary. Twice a day, enrolled subjects consumed 1 capsule of Satiereal (176.5 mg extract per day (n = 31) or a matching placebo (n = 29). Caloric intake was left unrestricted during the study. At baseline, both groups were homogeneous for age, body weight, and snacking frequency. Satiereal caused a significantly greater body weight reduction than placebo after 8 weeks (P < .01). The mean snacking frequency was significantly decreased in the Satiereal group as compared with the placebo group (P < .05). Other anthropometric dimensions and vital signs remained almost unchanged in both groups. No subject withdrawal attributable to a product effect was reported throughout the trial, suggesting a good tolerability to Satiereal. Our results indicate that Satiereal consumption produces a reduction of snacking and creates a satiating effect that could contribute to body weight loss. The combination of an adequate diet with Satiereal supplementation might help subjects engaged in a weight loss program in achieving their objective.

Nutr Res. 2010 May;30(5):305-13

Saffron for treatment of fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study.

OBJECTIVE: Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) has shown beneficial aphrodisiac effects in some animal and human studies. The aim of the present study was to assess the safety and efficacy of saffron on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction in women. METHODS: This was a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Thirty-eight women with major depression who were stabilized on fluoxetine 40 mg/day for a minimum of 6 weeks and had experienced subjective feeling of sexual dysfunction entered the study. The patients were randomly assigned to saffron (30 mg/daily) or placebo for 4 weeks. Measurement was performed at baseline, week 2, and week 4 using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Side effects were systematically recorded. RESULTS: Thirty-four women had at least one post-baseline measurement and completed the study. Two-factor repeated measure analysis of variance showed significant effect of time × treatment interaction [Greenhouse-Geisser’s corrected: F(1.580, 50.567) = 5.366, p = 0.012] and treatment for FSFI total score [F(1, 32) = 4.243, p = 0.048]. At the end of the fourth week, patients in the saffron group had experienced significantly more improvement in total FSFI (p < 0.001), arousal (p = 0.028), lubrication (p = 0.035), and pain (p = 0.016) domains of FSFI but not in desire (p = 0.196), satisfaction (p = 0.206), and orgasm (p = 0.354) domains. Frequency of side effects was similar between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: It seems saffron may safely and effectively improve some of the fluoxetine-induced sexual problems including arousal, lubrication, and pain.

Hum Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;28(1):54-60

Evaluation of Crocus sativus L. (saffron) on male erectile dysfunction: a pilot study.

In this study, the effect of Crocus sativus (saffron) was studied on male erectile dysfunction (ED). Twenty male patients with ED were followed for ten days in which each morning they took a tablet containing 200mg of saffron. Patients underwent the nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) test and the international index of erectile function questionnaire (IIEF-15) at the start of the treatment and at the end of the ten days. After the ten days of taking saffron there was a statistically significant improvement in tip rigidity and tip tumescence as well as base rigidity and base tumescence. ILEF-15 total scores were significantly higher in patients after saffron treatment (before treatment 22.15+/-1.44; after treatment 39.20+/-1.90, p<0.001). Saffron showed a positive effect on sexual function with increased number and duration of erectile events seen in patients with ED even only after taking it for ten days.

Phytomedicine. 2009 Aug;16(8):690-3

Cancer chemopreventive and tumoricidal properties of saffron (Crocus sativus L.).

Since cancer is the most common cause of death in the world population, the possibility that readily available natural substances from plants, vegetables, herbs, and spices may be beneficial in the prevention of cancer warrants closer examination. Saffron in filaments is the dried, dark red stigmata of Crocus sativus L. flowers and it is used as a spice, food colorant, and a drug in medicine. A growing body of research has demonstrated that saffron extract itself and its main constituents, the carotenoids, possess chemopreventive properties against cancer. This review discusses recent literature data and our results on the cancer chemopreventive activities of saffron and its main ingredients.

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2002 Jan;227(1):20-5