Welcome to another blog post for the weekly nootropic ingredient spotlight series.
Today we are taking a look at an age old ingredient, with a newer perspective. We are taking a look at Affron®, a specific extract of the Saffron spice.
What is Affron® Saffron?
Affron is the first Saffron extract standardised by HPLC to Lepticrosalides which are the constituent bioactive compounds which are shown to help with relaxation, mental and physical balance and help with maintaining a positive mood. The manufacturer/supplier of this ingredient is Pharmactive.
Saffron itself is formally known as a spice from the flower of Crocus sativus. It's typically used as both a seasoning and colouring in food, and is often the most expensive spice available on the market.
While it's primary purpose was to help flavour food, it was known that Saffron itself did posses some medicinal use - improving mood and reducing depressive symptoms. This has now been validated using modern, clinical research.
The Affron specific extract of Saffron has tried to isolate the potential therapeutic properties of Saffron, in order to create a useful product that can be supplemented regularly or as needed.
Affron Saffron has a recommended daily dose of just 28mg per day.
How does Affron® Saffron work (Mechanisms of action)?
Affron Saffron contains many biologically active compounds or phytochemicals that help contribute to its potent effects, namely Crocin, Picrocrocin, and Safranal.
These active components found within Affron Saffron have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-oxidant and anti-convulsant effects.
Whilst it is not entirely clear the exact mechanisms of action that these compounds target, it is thought that they act partially to inhibit the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrin.
It seems likely that it acts primarily by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, and this is what causes the mood enhancing and anti depressant type effects specifically.
Crocin in particular, has been shown to have anti depressant and anti-oxidant effects within rats, primarily by increasing cAMP, BDNF and NGF in the rat hippocampus.
Effects & Research for Affron® Saffron
There is a plethora of clinical research looking into Affron, primarily for its potential role as a mood enhancer and mild anti depressant.
In one, 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 Affron at 28mg per day.
The youth and parent versions of the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) were used as outcome measures.
The 68 participants all self reported reduced anxiety, social phobia and depressive symptoms.
Another study in 40 adults with mild to moderate depression, took either 30mg of Saffron extract or a placebo over a period of 6 weeks. Those who took Saffron had a statistically significant improvement in their previous depression rating.