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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

SaffronThe objective of this double-blind, placebo-controlled trail was to study whether saffron could be used to relieve PMS symptoms. 50 reproductive aged women with regular menstrual cycles and with PMS symptoms for at least the last 6 months were randomly assigned to receive 15 mg of saffron twice daily, or placebo twice daily, for four full menstrual cycles. The Daily Symptom Report and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale were used to evaluate the response.According the Daily Symptom Report 19 of the 25 women in the saffron group responded with at least a 50% reduction in severity of symptoms, vs only 2 of 25 in the placebo group (P< 0.0001). A significant difference between the saffron group and placebo group occurred between the third and four cycle and was statistically significant by the end of the study (P< 0.0001).

According the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, 15 of 25 women in the saffron group responded to treatment vs only 1 of 25 in the placebo group. (P< 0.0001). Again, a significant difference was seen between cycles 3 and 4 with a statistically significant difference by the study end (P< 0.0001).

Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, et al. BJOG 2008;115:515-519.

Commentary: Improvements in the Total Premenstrual Daily Symptoms and the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale with saffron should give us definite motivation to try this simple treatment. Saffron has been previously shown to have an antidepressant effect in women with mild to moderate depression, through a serotonergic mechanism, so it’s not surprising that it would work in PMS. Research on PMS in the last several years has pointed strongly to the etiology being the dysregulation of the serotonergic system. This is why we have seen conventional medical practitioners focus on the use of SSRIs in treatment.

This is the first clinical trial I’ve seen in the use of saffron for the treatment of PMS. While only a small study and short follow-up, the positive results warrant further study, and in the meantime, accumulating some clinical experience.

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