What Is Saffron?

Saffron is a spice that comes from the flower of the Crocus sativus, more commonly referred to as the saffron crocus or autumn crocus. The floral stigmas of this plant are the source of saffron. Harvesting is a labor-intensive process, and only a very small yield of saffron comes from each flower. This is why saffron is the world's most expensive spice. Lower-priced versions of saffron are often inauthentic, sometimes containing fillers which have been dyed red to match the vibrant crimson color of actual saffron threads.

What Are the Benefits of Saffron?

Besides its value as a delicious seasoning, saffron can be used for fragrances and dyes. In addition, saffron has been utilized for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The following are some of the health benefits associated with saffron. 

**Note that the benefits listed here need more studies and human research to confirm definitively.**

Fighting cancer and reducing cell damage

Saffron contains plant compounds which act as antioxidants. That means that it can help to protect cells against free radicals and oxidative stress. Generally, antioxidants are associated with a lower risk of cancer. Some studies have found that saffron may help kill cancer cells.

Protect the brain

The antioxidants in saffron may also help with overall brain health by protecting its cells from damage. Antioxidants in saffron, such as crocetin, crocin, and safranal, may help to improve learning ability and memory. They may also help to prevent certain neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease.

Relieving symptoms of depression

Saffron has been studied for its potential as a mood booster. Some of the plant compounds in saffron which contribute to its vivid red color, such as crocin and crocetin, may have antidepressant properties. In some studies, saffron was found to be more effective at treating symptoms of mild to moderate depression compared to a placebo. 

Aphrodisiac effects

Some studies have discovered an aphrodisiac effect when someone consumes saffron. Studies have found that saffron may be able to boost libido and improve erectile function, especially in people taking antidepressants.

Reduced appetite

For those who are looking for natural weight loss aids, saffron may be a suitable option. In some studies, people taking saffron supplements found that it curbed their appetite and helped them to lose weight.

Saffron Benefits for ADHD

Some of the benefits listed above have the potential to help individuals with ADHD. For example, people with the condition often struggle with memory and learning ability, and the risk of developing depression is higher for those with ADHD.

In addition, a number of studies have been conducted to assess the possible connection between saffron and ADHD. For example, one clinical trial found that in children and adolescents ages 7 to 17, saffron had a comparable effect to that of methylphenidate (more commonly known as Ritalin). Overall, this study found that saffron was more effective for symptoms of hyperactivity, while methylphenidate was more effective for inattention symptoms.

Other studies have found similar benefits when using both saffron and medication to treat ADHD. For example, one study found that adults taking a lower dose of stimulant medication with saffron reported fewer ADHD symptoms than those taking a higher dose of the same medication with a placebo.

Saffron Side Effects

Saffron is generally associated with little to no side effects. This may make it especially appealing as an ADHD treatment option for children as well as for people who are sensitive to the side effects of certain ADHD medications.

Some of the side effects which may occur with larger doses of saffron include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Appetite changes
  • Anxiety

How to Use Saffron for ADHD

If you're interested in using saffron to help manage your ADHD symptoms, there are two options you can consider. The most straightforward option is to use the saffron spice in your cooking. It can be used to make tea or add flavoring to savory dishes. Using limited amounts in your cooking is completely safe, so you can experiment with it a bit to see if you experience any benefits. It's very expensive, however, so it's important to consider the cost of this method for consuming saffron.

If you're not a fan of the taste of saffron or if you'd like a more budget-friendly option, you can take a saffron supplement, which usually comes in capsule form. This makes it easy to track exactly how much saffron you're consuming. However, you should always consult with your healthcare provider before you start using any supplement for the treatment of ADHD.

Because the benefits of saffron for ADHD require more research to confirm, the spice is not intended to replace other treatment options, but rather to serve as an aid in relieving symptoms. The best form of treatment is still ADHD medication. If you'd like more information about getting an ADHD prescription or which supplements are safe to take with your medication, reach out to us at Done. Our licensed ADHD clinicians can walk you through your options and provide expert medical advice.