Articles, Videos & Podcasts

How to Choose a Saffron Supplement That Works

11 October, 2017

saffron stigmas.jpgSelecting the best saffron supplement to improve your health is often difficult considering the vast number of saffron supplements on the market as well as the variety of manufacturing practices, ingredient sources, dosages, testing procedures, and research.

Saffron is commonly used in cooking and as a colouring agent, however, research has confirmed that it also has many health benefits. For example, saffron has been shown to improve mood, enhance memory, improve sexual health and vitality, and improve eye health.

In this article we will cover exactly how you can choose the best saffron supplement to ensure you get the best out of its health benefits.

How to choose the best saffron supplement:

Only use a saffron supplement that has been tested for purity.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and by weight costs more than gold. The reason for this high cost is the labour intensiveness associated with its collection and cultivation. Unfortunately, given this high-cost, saffron is often subject to adulteration. Research has confirmed that many saffron products actually do not contain any saffron at all. In fact, they only contain ingredients that ‘look-like’ saffron.

It is therefore absolutely essential that you purchase a saffron supplement that contains real, high-quality saffron. Even better, choose a registered saffron extract that has been examined for potency in clinical studies.

If you are unsure, ask the manufacturer for evidence of the quality of the saffron supplement. Can they provide you with proof that the saffron they use in their supplement is actually saffron?

Choose saffron that has been grown in regions that ensure it’s high-quality.

Saffron is primarily produced in Iran, but historically Spain was its largest producer. While there is high-quality Saffron grown in Iran, we believe that Spain produces the best quality saffron. The climate in Spain is perfect for saffron. Also, the expert knowledge handed down by generations ensures that the best practices are used to grow saffron. So always ask your supplier of saffron supplements where the saffron was grown.

saffron supplement.jpgMake sure you are using a saffron extract, not just powdered saffron.

Many saffron supplements only contain powdered/ ground saffron. This process can often have detrimental effects on the stability and quality of saffron. However, a ‘saffron extract’ is a natural, manufactured powder that has been extracted from saffron. This extraction process removes impurities and ensures the active components in saffron are not damaged. This means that 300mg of saffron stigmas may be required to produce 100mg of the saffron extract. As a result, this 100mg is far more potent and pure than the original 300mg. So ask your saffron supplement supplier if they are giving you powdered saffron or a saffron extract.

Only use a saffron supplement with standardised levels of active ingredients.

Saffron contains many active ingredients that are believed to account for its therapeutic effectiveness. These include safranal, crocins, and crocetin. Collectively these have been referred to as Lepticrosalides®.

It is therefore important that you only use a saffron supplement that contains standardised levels of these active ingredients. These levels ensure that each new batch of saffron is equivalent in quality. We all have experienced buying a piece of fruit one day which is high in quality, and then return the following week to be very disappointed by the quality of the next batch. The same thing occurs with herbal ingredients. Quality can vary from batch to batch and you need to choose a saffron supplement that has some measure of quality. ‘Standardising’ for levels of active ingredients is one way of doing this.

The standardised saffron extract, affron®, has been well-research and has demonstrated a wide range of mood-lifting benefits for various groups of people, including both adults and teenagers. It is also standardised for greater than 3.5% Lepticrosalides® (a measure of bioactive compounds present in saffron, including safranal and crocin isomers)

saffron for depression and low mood.jpgThe saffron supplement must be tested for potency and purity.

Different manufacturers of nutritional supplements use different techniques in their manufacturing processes, resulting in varying levels of active ingredients.

Therefore, it is essential that every batch of saffron supplements made is rigorously tested to ensure the final product is as pure as possible, with no potentially harmful pesticides or chemicals contained in the product.

Also, the saffron supplements should also be tested for optimum levels of active ingredients to ensure potency and effectiveness of the product.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia require supplement companies to have their products manufactured at a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) approved facility. They also require every batch made to be tested every 6 months to ensure that label specifications are met.

Australian supplements are known to be some of the highest-quality products in the world due to the stringent government-regulated requirements.

To ensure you’re buying the best saffron supplement, ask the manufacturer for independent test results of the saffron supplement you’re considering purchasing.  

Ensure the saffron supplement has had independent research supporting its efficacy.

Using a saffron supplement that has been thoroughly clinically tested ensures you get the best results from using the product.

Cheap, inferior-quality saffron dietary supplements rarely have any evidence supporting their efficacy. Therefore, you should only select products that have been proven to work on numerous occasions. Furthermore, the research must have been conducted by independent researchers rather than done ‘in-house’.

Plus, to ensure the results are valid, make sure the research studies that have been done are randomised, controlled trials (RCTs), and have been published in reputable journals. RCTs are considered the ‘gold-standard’ of research. ‘Open-label studies’ or ‘case studies’ are not considered to be valid sources of proof of a product’s efficacy.

Simply ask the company who is manufacturing the saffron supplement to provide you with the independent research on the product. If they cannot or will not provide it, then simply choose another saffron supplement.

Unfortunately, there are many saffron supplements on the market and few companies or their products fulfill the criteria mentioned here.

Therefore, if you’re wanting to use a saffron supplement to help you improve your mood, then take your time, do your own research, email or phone several companies and ask for the information mentioned here.

Once you have received all the information from the various companies, review it all and then make your decision. Don’t rush in and buy the cheapest saffron supplement or the ‘big-name brand’. Get all the facts and information you need first before making a buying decision. This will ensure you get value for money as well as get the best possible results from using the product.

If you would like to find out more about saffron, please watch the video below: