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Saffron Spice for Menopause Symptoms

By | Fact Checked |

Saffron Spice for Menopause Symptoms

Saffron has the distinction of being the most expensive spice in the world because of the labor involved in harvesting it. However, it also is known for helping women maneuver through some of their perimenopause and menopause symptoms. Here are some things you should know about this exotic spice.

What is saffron?

The crimson threads of saffron you can buy have been harvested by hand from the saffron crocus, or Crocus sativus flower. The term “saffron” refers to the thread-like structures, or stigma, of the flowers, which must be plucked by hand. That’s why one pound of saffron can cost between $500 and $5,000.

Saffron contains a number of antioxidants that have been identified as providing numerous health benefits, including an ability to help manage emotional and mental health issues and symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. The compound crocin is among the most bioactive, but the spice also provides crocetin, kaempferol, and safranal.

Read about 9 nutritional deficiencies associated with anxiety and depression

Saffron and menopause symptoms

Many of the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are the same as those assigned to premenstrual syndrome (PMS); namely, food cravings, irritability, anxiety, depression, headache, and pain. Could saffron come to the rescue?

Several studies indicate that it can. In a placebo-controlled trial, women were assigned to take either 30 mg saffron daily or a placebo. Those who took the saffron experienced more relief from irritability, pain, food cravings, and headaches than those in the placebo group.

The healing qualities of saffron appear to extend to its aroma as well. One research team found that breathing in the aroma of saffron for 20 minutes helped reduce anxiety and lowered cortisol levels (and thus stress), two common issues in the menopause years.

Unwanted weight and abdominal fat are two more symptoms of concern in menopause, and saffron may help. In an eight-week study, women who took a saffron extract supplement showed a significant reduction in appetite, waist circumference, total fat mass, and body mass index (BMI).

saffron benefits menopause

Saffron, mood, and brain health

Mood swings, anxiety, stress, depression, memory problems, brain fog—sound familiar? The menopause years can take a toll on our brain and mental health. Saffron may help. After all, Daniel G. Amen, MD, author of Memory Rescue: Supercharge Your Brain, Reverse Memory Loss, and Remember What Matters Most, has called saffron “nature’s antidepressant.”

Read about 5 tips to help control mood swings

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In a five-study review involving 2 placeboes and 3 antidepressant studies, for example, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebo in managing mild-to-moderate depression. In the three studies that compared saffron with antidepressants, the spice and the drugs provided similar benefits in reducing depression symptoms.

In another review, investigators evaluated how saffron fared in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions. They noted that “saffron and its active constituents possess antidepressant properties similar to those of current antidepressant medications such as fluoxetine, imipramine, and citalopram, but with fewer reported side effects.”

Saffron and especially its most active component, crocin, have also been found to help prevent spatial learning and memory impairment related to chronic stress, according to an animal study.

Bottom line

Saffron has demonstrated that it can help relieve symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, including those that affect emotional and mental health, such as stress, depression, memory, and anxiety. When using saffron supplements, follow package directions or consult a knowledgeable healthcare provider.










  • Abedimanesh N et al. Saffron and crocin improved appetite, dietary intakes and body composition in patients with coronary artery disease. Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Research 2017; 9(4):200-8
  • Amen Clinic. 8 mood foods that fight depression. Amen Clinic
  • Fukui H et al. Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine 2011 Jun 15; 18(8-9):726-30
  • Ghadrdoost B et al. Protective effects of saffron extract and its active constituent crocin against oxidative stress and spatial learning and memory deficits induced by chronic stress in rats. European Journal of Pharmacology 2011 Sep 30; 667(1-3):222-29 
  • Hausenblas HA et al. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of Integrative Medicine 2013 Nov; 11(6):377-83
  • Shafiee M et al. Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action. Journal of Affective Disorders 2018 Feb; 227:330-37.
Andrea is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) & Menopause Expert. Andrea is in menopause & has been researching for the last 5 years science-based ingredients and methods to help women manage their symptoms. She’s the Founder of—a multiple award-winning website. Andrea co-authored the book “Unjunk Your Junk Food” published by Simon and Schuster, as well as “Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart,” and “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box.” Andrea co-hosts the Morphus for Menopause podcast and appears as a Healthy Living Expert on TV across North America. Andrea has more than 20 years of experience in the health & wellness space and is a multiple award-winning Influencer.