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Managing Depression with Saffron?
Managing Depression with Saffron?
Remember the hit song by Donovan, "Mellow Yellow" which was popular in the mid 60's? It had the line, "I'm just mad about Saffron".
Well, now you too can be mad about saffron, because, it appears, with saffron you may not need to be mad, or at least depressed, anymore!
As many as ten percent of adults in the United States may be suffering from depression.
Now, I'm not talking about being sad for a few days, I'm talking about clinical depression...the kind that is always there for some people, the kind which can be treated in most cases, but also the kind that can result in some pretty nasty outcomes if left untreated.
It's not just today that this is important, as some experts believe that by 2020, depression may be near the top of the list of major causes of disability...if not in the first position.
The most common treatments for depression include prescription antidepressants.
Unfortunately, roughly 90% of people using currently available antidepressant medications experience side effects of various types, ranging from constipation, anxiety, and weight gain to insomnia and thoughts of suicide. Even worse, it is believed that these antidepressants have been triggering, or at least contributing factors, in some suicides.
Additionally, a possible link has been discovered between the use of prescription antidepressants by pregnant women and cases of autism in their children.
Over 10% of those on prescription antidepressants report sexual problem as well.
Another problem with popping prescription pills to end depression is that many people must increase doses, with diminishing effects...except for sexual dysfunction...which may continue for years after the person quits taking the drugs.
If all that is not enough to send someone searching for a less dangerous, more natural, AND LESS EXPENSIVE way of managing depression, what is?
Well, people HAVE been searching for a more natural way of managing depression, and researchers may have found a likely candidate...saffron (Crocus sativas).
Though not a culinary herb per se, as a spice derived from a flower, it has been used to flavor foods for hundreds of years, and, as an aromatic, has many uses, especially in aromatherapy. It is very expensive, mainly due to the extraction process which must be used to obtain it. In fact, it has been called the "King of Spices", and is considered to be pound for pound the most expensive spice in the world. Fortunately, saffron is very strong, so, in most cases, a little goes a long way!
Saffron was a popular dye, back in the day, and was also the name of the girl in the song mentioned above, back in happy-hippie times. The color, the smell, and even the sound of its name conjured up happy thoughts, but, more realistically, saffron has been used as an aid to digestion and has been helpful for stomach pains and other related ailments. It has also been used to help ease or cure other illnesses, such as fever or flu. It has also been used in small amounts to help with some menstrual problems in women. Some studies indicate that saffron also has antioxidants and other healthful properties.
More recent studies have indicated that happy little saffron (spice, not girl) might also be just what depressed people are looking for.
Among its other qualities, saffron raises serotonin levels, enhancing mood and improving quality of life, thus allowing for physical and mental improvements in many areas.
Studies seem to indicate that saffron, while effective in easing many of the effects of depression on its own, seems to work even better when combined with other treatments for the problem. Perhaps the most important point for some, however, is that saffron is essentially free of side effects and can even block some of the sexual dysfunction caused by prescription antidepression medications.
BUT WAIT...THERE'S MORE!
I always wanted to say that.
While saffron should not be construed as wonder drug, research has demonstrated saffron to be a safe selection in the treatment of other conditions, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Now, that's all great, but maybe you think that you would rather just "go with the flow" and stick with prescription antidepressants.
Well, my friend, 119 published studies have linked those prescription treatments to over 75 side effects ranging from yellowing of the skin and eyes, to death. It's not just me saying it, either, as 99 drug-regulating agencies from 10 countries, AND the European Union (EU), have issued warnings about possible side effects from these products.
I do not want to say that prescription antidepressants should never be used, and, considering the real danger of self-injury and even death with depression, diagnosis and treatment should be left to medical experts. But, there's nothing that says that you cannot try to help yourself a little by implementing positive lifestyle changes and perhaps with the aid of herbal and other natural supplements.
One last thought: Other studies still in early stages have shown possible links between saffron and the prevention of cancer. It has also shown promise as a weight loss supplement and is available in weight loss supplements such as Saffron Extract Select™.