Saffron Fighting Alzheimer’s Disease
Saffron as a Treatment for Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects millions of older adults worldwide. It is estimated that around 70% of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s, and the disease is a leading cause of death in developed countries.
Although most commonly associated with progressive memory loss in old age, Alzheimer’s also involves mood and behavioral issues as well as problems with language. The disease is invariably fatal, usually within 3-9 years of onset.
Despite extensive research, there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease—and indeed, scientists admit that they still do not fully understand the causes of this terrible illness.
They do know that there seems to be a genetic basis for AD, and that Alzheimer’s is associated with neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques in the brain.
Based on this information, there are some commonly accepted treatment regimens for the disease, though they are mostly aimed at slowing its progress and/or mitigating the worst symptoms.
Saffron for Alzheimer’s
Saffron has long been recognized as a powerful antioxidant as well as a folk remedy for neurological and convulsive disorders in Iranian herbal medicine. Early studies in animals seemed to indicate that saffron’s biocompounds had a beneficial effect on brain function in impaired specimens. Because of this, medical researchers have started to take a new look at saffron’s potential as a therapy for Alzheimer’s—with promising results.
One study showed daily saffron supplementation (30mg/day) to be as effective as the commonly prescribed Alzheimer’s drug donepezil, but without the nausea and vomiting associated with donepezil.
Another research paper, published in 2019, sheds light on the chemical mechanism underlying saffron’s efficacy as an Alzheimer’s treatment. Researchers tested the effects of the saffron biocompounds trans-crocin 4 and trans-crocetin on cell cultures which modeled the atypical neurons of AD sufferers. Interestingly, trans-crocin 4 and trans-crocetin were found to suppress key enzymes responsible for the molecular process by which the plaques and proteins associated with AD are formed—hinting at a biochemical explanation for saffron’s efficacy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Another review article notes that crocin, a key biocompound found in saffron, is a unique antioxidant in that it is a water-soluble carotenoid proven to improve neurological function and protect brain cells. As such, the authors write, saffron shows great promise as a supplementary treatment for AD sufferers as well as a preventative measure in healthy adults.
Saffron for the future
Although much research remains to be done before scientists can claim a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, saffron has already shown efficacy as a treatment for symptoms of AD and as a powerful natural aid to brain function. In addition, saffron is a proven weapon in the fight against oxidative stress throughout the body. It is our hope that as Alzheimer’s research progresses, new and better treatments can be developed—some of which make use of the powerful biocompounds found in saffron.
In the meantime, a daily dose of saffron is an excellent way to boost general health as well as protect against a wide range of ailments—and this applies both to healthy individuals who wish to remain healthy as well as people fighting serious illnesses who want to support the therapies prescribed by their physicians.
To learn how you can use saffron either as a health supplement or as a way to support the efficacy of conventional pharmaceuticals, please feel free to consult our certified nutritionist with any questions you may have.
And if you are a scientist looking to source large quantities of organically farmed, chemically pure saffron for research purposes, please use the same form to contact our wholesale division. We lab test each and every batch of saffron to ensure that it meets ISO 3632 (certificates available upon request).