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Saffron vs. Prozac for Depression

Millions of Americans suffer from depression every year, a disabling disease that can end up fatal due to suicide. †In my last Care2 feature, Treating PMS with Saffron, I detailed remarkable benefits of the spice saffron on the emotional and physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. The researchers noticed a significant drop in symptoms of depression as well, and so decided to put saffron to the test. See my NutritionFacts.org video pick above for the head-to-head test of the simple spice versus the drug Prozac for the treatment of clinical depression.

Remember saffron from my videos†Saffron for the Treatment of Alzheimerís and†Saffron Versus Aricept? See my blog†Natural Alzheimerís Treatment for some context and my post on other natural remedies:†Amla: Indian Gooseberries vs. Cancer, Diabetes, and Cholesterol.

If one little flower can do that, what might a diet full of plants achieve? Studies have found less depression among vegetarians, but maybe people who are happier go on to eat healthier rather than the other way around. One can’t prove cause and effect unless you put that to the test too, which was done this year. Researchers found that by removing all meat, fish, poultry, and eggs from people’s diets they could significantly improve mood scores after just two weeks! It can take drugs like Prozac a month or more to take effect.

The way drugs like Prozac work is by elevating levels of serotonin, the so-called happiness hormone.† Did you know there’s serotonin in plants? I certainly didn’t, but there’s serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, and all sorts of human neurotransmitters in plants. So much so that there’s been a call to start treating depression with “high-content sources of serotonin” such as pineapples, bananas, kiwis, plums, and tomatoes. And what are the side effects–maybe you’ll get a seed stuck in your teeth or something?

For more, check out my videos on the wrong way to boost serotonin by taking potentially dangerous tryptophan supplements, better ways to boost serotonin to fight disorders like premenstrual depression, and perhaps the best way exemplified by findings from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the successful use of butternut squash seeds to treat social anxiety disorder.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation†Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: Tom Varco / Wikimedia Commons

Related:
Spices: Antioxidants in a Pinch
Green Tea Brain Wave Alteration
Improving Mood Through Diet

Read more: Depression, Diet & Nutrition, Drugs, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Mental Wellness, Videos, , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org.

46 comments

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11:06AM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

Taking 30 milligrams of Saffron a day for 6 weeks has the same depression reducing properties as 20 milligrams of fluoxetine (Prozac). Saffron enhances the activity of (mood boosting) neurotransmitters such as dopamine (Journal of Ethnopharmacology)

6:13AM PDT on Aug 3, 2013

Depression is a very complex illness and each individual reacts to different meds and therapy in their own way. There is no miracle cure currently available or proper diagnosis either. Interesting post-thx

5:41PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Interesting info, thank you.

5:41PM PDT on Apr 4, 2013

Interesting info, thank you.

7:22AM PDT on Mar 23, 2013

Thanks for the information.

7:49AM PDT on Mar 14, 2013

Thanks for the info.

1:55PM PST on Nov 14, 2012

Bonjour,

Thank you for this video.

About Prozac :

Even though Prozac passed FDA approval, the drug continues to be a threat because the dangers of Prozac are extremely understated by health care professionals. Most of the populace does not comprehend the extent of adverse reactions that are linked to Prozac. "By December '95 there had already been reported 35,230 adverse reactions to Prozac - including hallucinations, aggression, hostility, assault, manslaughter, and suicide - resulting in a total of 2,394 deaths"

But if you are comparing a new treatment with some dangerous one as Prozac, this will be of no use, as Prozac is not a treatment, it is how to have "legal drug addict" person.

Prozac will never be a reference, it is really what you must not do !

If Saffron is a natural help - do not mix it with poison !!!

Prozac and Depression are pushed in our society to make money.

Let's use some plants to be healty really. Health is natural as Life !

Promote depression are a marketing tool to sell drugs and to make people more anxious.

4:11PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

(got cut off below):

.“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD), followed by others like the current rage named Bipolar Disorder, and Depression---these “diseases” are not
discovered, and there is no verifiable physical or chemical abnormality. Rather, a group of “experts” from the American Psychiatric Association decides that certain behaviors (called symptoms) are abnormal and votes these sets of behavior into existence as diseases." Dr. John Breeding, Psychologist

"The claim that depression is a disease is propaganda promoted by psychiatry and the state and marketed by drug companies"---Dr. Ron Leifer, Psychiatrist

4:09PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

@Jordan S., no it is you who have been led all the way down the garden path, and beyond for that matter..

Do not attack me, instead take it up with the following health professionals:

"Depression and the 'chemical imbalance' theory----We can only know the abnormal level of a chemical if we know the normal level, that's common sense. Yet in 'depression' , ask any doctor what my normal level of serotonin should be, and they can't answer that question because we don't know.
Psychiatry is fundamentally a belief system. It is not evidence-based, despite what you will hear. The diagnosis of 'depression' is ALWAYS made WITHOUT chemical tests, and the tests have NO reliability, because there are NO tests!"
Dr. Terry Lynch, M.D., psychotherapist

(regarding any diagnostic test for any psychiatric disorder) "Not only is there not any definitive test, there's not any even a slightly useful clinical test" Dr. Colin Ross, Psychiatrist

"In clinical trials psychiatrists are engaged to do the research, and we can bank on the fact that these psychiatrists are tied to the pharmaceutical companies" Arlene Tessitore, former manager of a pharmaceutical marketing company

"It seems that we have been misled. Depression is not a brain disease, and chemicals don't cure it...the chemical cure of depression is a myth" Irving Kirsch, Professor of Psychology

...“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD), followed by others like the current rage named Bipolar Dis

12:33PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

@Kenneth - You have been horribly mislead. It is true that depression is frequently misdiagnosed, along with other mental illnesses, and this is because there is no blood test or other to officially diagnose. Does that mean they are not real...because we do not have the technology yet to test for them? Absolutely not. Unfortunately you have this attitude because of the sick drug-peddling many doctors engage in, and the over diagnosing. But depression IS real, and it has nothing to do with the "blues" or bereavement. Clinical depression is illness like any other. You should be ashamed of yourself for saying otherwise. These people need help, not lies and denial of their sickness.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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