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Doctoral School / UAM

Saffron extract has antidepressant effects in adolescents

El extracto de azafrán tiene efectos antidepresivos en adolescentes


An international study lead by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) has confirmed the antidepressant properties of a standardized saffron extract. The results, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, demonstrate that the active ingredients in this species can lessen symptoms related to depression, anxiety, in adolescents, between 12 and 16 years of age.

Researchers from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM), in collaboration with Murdoch University (Australia) and Pharmactive Biotech, have carried out a pioneering study to prove the efficacy of a standardized saffron extract in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety and depression in adolescents.

The results, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, show the administration of affron® (nutraceutical developed by Pharmactive Biotech) for eight weeks was beneficial in improving anxious and depressive symptoms in adolescents, aged 12-16 years.

The clinical trial, conducted in Australia, included 80 youths with moderate and intermediate symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to the authors, the adolescents treated with the extract exhibited significant improvements on the main indicators of anxiety, social phobia, and depression.

“Total scores decreased by an average of 33% compared to 17% in the placebo group. In contrast, 37% of the young people experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, compared to 11% of youth on placebo”, the researchers state.

“From the parents’ perspective –they add– there was a statistically significant difference in symptoms between the saffron and placebo conditions over time (average improvements of 40% and 26%, respectively).”

Saffron’s active ingredients, known as lepticrosalides, have been reported by several authors. They inhibit the re-uptake of neurotransmitters linked to mood, especially serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. People suffering from depression have been proven to present high levels of oxidative stress; taking exogenous antioxidants can therefore by helpful in preventing depressive symptoms.



Lopresti, A., Drummond, P., Inarejos-García, AM., Prodanov, M. (2018). affron®, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 232, 349-357


Contact information:

Marín Prodanov, Profesor Contratado Doctor
Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación CIAL (CEI CSIC-UAM)Departamento de Química Física Aplicada
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Tlf.: 914976883
Mail: marin.prodanov@uam.es