Saffron Powder Clinical Evidence

BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Agha-Hosseini M, et al. Crocus sativus L (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. 2008 Mar;115(4):515-9.

Can saffron help relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?

PMS is marked by physical and mental symptoms in the one to two weeks before menstruation. Emotional symptoms include irritability, mood swings, and depression. Saffron has been used to treat depression. Can it help women with PMS?

Study Type:
Human clinical intervention trial.

Study Design:
Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled. Participants took either saffron or a placebo for two menstrual cycles. Researchers used the Daily Symptom Report as the primary outcome measure and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale as a secondary outcome measure.

30 mg/day (15 mg twice a day), for 2 menstrual cycles

Women aged 20-45 with regular menstrual cycles and a history of PMS lasting at least 6 months.

Saffron was found to be effective at relieving symptoms of PMS, as measured by both the Daily Symptom Report and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, with significant differences between the treatment and control groups.

“The results of this study indicate the efficacy of C. sativus L. in the treatment of PMS. However, a tolerable adverse effects profile may well confirm the application of saffron as an alternative treatment for PMS. These results deserve further investigation.”

Mechanism of Action

Sex hormones impact the uptake, binding, turnover, and transport of serotonin. The serotonergic system seems to play a particularly important role in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle of women with PMS. Saffron has been shown to relieve symptoms of mild to moderate depression through a serotonergic mechanism. The fact that there is considerable overlap between symptoms of depression and those of PMS make saffron a promising ingredient for PRM-related mood disorders.