affron, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
J Affect Disord. 2018 05 ;232:349-357. Epub 2018 Feb 26. PMID: 29510352
Adrian L Lopresti
BACKGROUND: Saffron has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in adults with mild-to-moderate depression. However, this is the first study examining its mood-related effects in teenagers.
METHODS: In this 8-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, youth aged 12-16 years, with mild-to-moderate anxiety or depressive symptoms were given tablets containing placebo or a saffron extract (affron, 14 mg b.i.d). The youth and parent versions of the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) were used as outcome measures.
RESULTS: 80 participants were enrolled and 68 completed the study. Based on youth self-reports, affronwas associated with greater improvements in overall internalising symptoms (p = 0.049), separation anxiety (p = 0.003), social phobia (p = 0.023), and depression (p = 0.016). Total internalising scores decreased by an average of 33% compared to 17% in the placebo group (p = 0.029). However, parental reports of improvements were inconsistent as mean improvements in RCADS scores were greater in the saffron group (40% vs 26%) (p = 0.026), although no other significant differences were identified. affronwas well-tolerated and there was a trend of reduced headaches in participants on the active treatment.
LIMITATIONS: The use of a self-report instrument, limited study duration, single treatment dose, and non-clinical sample used in this study limit the generalisability of study findings.
CONCLUSION: The administration of a standardised saffron extract (affron) for 8 weeks improved anxiety and depressive symptoms in youth with mild-to-moderate symptoms, at least from the perspective of the adolescent. However, these beneficial effects were inconsistently corroborated by parents.