Saffron Extract (Crocus sativus)
SAFFRON COMMON NAME
Saffron | Saffron Crocus
TOP BENEFITS OF SAFFRON
- Supports mood*
- Supports cognitive function*
- Supports vision*
WHAT IS SAFFRON?
Saffron is a spice derived from the flowers of Crocus sativus. It’s been used and traded as a spice for at least 4000 years and is considered the world's most costly spice by weight. Saffron has had a wide range and long list of traditional uses. In Traditional Iranian Medicine saffron was thought to be useful for supporting sleep and mood, and to be a heart tonic. And in India it was used as a nerve and heart tonic, and for relaxation and sleep support. Iran produces the majority of saffron: Greece, Kashmir, Morocco, Spain and Turkey are also fairly large growers. Saffron, as a spice, refers to the deep red-maroon colored stigma and styles (called threads). Not all saffron is of the same quality and strength, with price increasing substantially for the highest grades. In general, content of several of saffron’s active compounds are used to determine strength. A greater content of crocin (responsible for saffron's color), picrocrocin (a bitter compound giving the characteristic taste), and safranal (which gives the fragrance) would be graded as higher strength. In addition to these marker compounds, saffron also contains zeaxanthin, lycopene, and other carotenoids. Crocin also belongs to the carotenoid family. Most carotenoids only dissolve in oil (i.e., are fat-soluble). Crocin is water-soluble, which is part of the reason it is used in rice dishes and other water-based food recipes. There’s been a growing interest in the use of saffron for health purposes, including in areas such as mood, cognition, vision, sports performance, appetite regulation, metabolic function, sleep, and women’s health.
NEUROHACKER’S SAFFRON SOURCING
There's a long history of saffron adulteration. Because of this, Neurohacker feels it is critical to use a standardized saffron extract purchased from an ingredient supplier that can authenticate quality and strength.
The saffron extract we use has been clinically studied, is DNA authenticated, and has a patented profile for marker compounds including crocin, picrocrocin and safranal.
Saffron extract used in our products is GRAS, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, Kosher certified and Halal compliant.
SAFFRON DOSING PRINCIPLES AND RATIONALE
Most saffron studies have used standardized extracts, with doses typically in the range of 20-30 mg per day. While a few studies have used 60 mg, in general, we consider 30 mg to be at the top end of what’s needed when using saffron extracts for specific clinical reasons. Since studies comparing multiple doses or different standardizations have not been published, there’s no information of whether saffron has a threshold effect (i.e., an amount or range less than the full dose where the majority of the response would occur; see Neurohacker Dosing Principles). However, individual (i.e. N of 1) subjective response to saffron does vary considerably, with some persons reporting noticeable differences when taking as little as 1-3 mg of a standardized saffron extract. Depending on the purpose Neurohacker is using saffron for, and the other ingredients it’s combined with, it might be dosed anywhere ranging from a more micro-dose level up (3 mg) up to a studied dose of 30 mg per day.
SAFFRON KEY MECHANISMS
- Supports a positive mental-emotional bias [1–9]
- Supports a calm mood [3,4,7–9]
- Supports focus and attention 
- Supports healthy brain aging [11–13]
- Supports sleep [14–16]
- Supports dopamine signaling [17,18]
- Supports GABA-glutamate signaling 
- Supports acetylcholinesterase activity 
- Supports brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels [19,20]
- Supports neuroprotective functions [18,21–25]
- Supports long-term potentiation 
- Supports retinal function [26–28]
- Protects macular health [27–29]
- Supports visual acuity [27,29]
- Protects retinal cells against light-induced damage [30–33]
- Protects retinal cells against damage and degeneration [22,27,29,33–36]
- Supports healthy intraocular pressure 
- Enhances reaction times 
- Supports muscle strength 
- Supports muscle recovery functions 
- Supports antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase [SOD], glutathione peroxidase [GPx]) [18,21,36]
- Replenishes glutathione (GSH) levels [18,36]
- Supports free-radical scavenging [18,21,35,36]
- Promotes healthy prooxidant-antioxidant balance 
- Supports the activity of mitochondrial enzymes 
- Supports mitochondrial membrane potential 
- Supports cytokine balance 
- Supports appetite regulation 
- Supports healthy lipid levels and blood pressure regulation [43,44]
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