The researchers believe that saffron works by increasing serotonin levels. Serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter which is also called 5-hydroxytryptamine. It is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and central nervous system, the digestive tract, and blood platelets. It plays an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep, learning, and the constriction of blood vessels. In addition to appetite regulation, it may be involved in anxiety or migraines.
Study participants took a daily dose of 176.5 mg of a proprietary saffron extract to obtain the best appetite and craving regulation effects. Participants taking the placebo had no change in appetite or cravings. The women taking saffron also had another surprising result: they lost an average of 3.63 pounds over the course of four weeks, primarily as fat from their thighs. Both studies were randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies on humans.
Saffron is a spice from the flower of a particular crocus plant (Crocus sativus) which is indigenous to southwest Asia. It contains many medically-active compounds, but the two that have generated the greatest attention are crocin and safranal. Increasing amounts of research are showing that saffron helps with depression, anxiety, emotional stress, and may even have cancer-suppressing properties.
In traditional medicine and folk medicine, saffron has been used as a pain remedy, to assist with poor digestion, and to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, respiratory diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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