Recently, I was browsing the specialty foods shelf at a local store, and stumbled upon an exotic tea. Intrigued by the combination of cinnamon and the most expensive spice in the world – saffron, I decided to give it a try.
I enjoyed the blend to enough to drink it over the next few days; then something surprising happened. I began to notice a subtle but distinct change in my mood. I had plenty of reason to be stressed out, but I wasn’t. I felt even-keeled, focused and downright happy. The change was noticeable enough for me to Google it— “saffron tea mood.”
My observation was immediately validated by a few recent studies. Most notably, Dr. Shahin Akhondzadeh studied the effects of saffron capsules on women who suffered from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and found that symptoms such as depression, mood swings, and irritability declined by about 50% as compared to 8% for those participants who took a placebo.
But saffron’s benefits aren’t only important for PMS sufferers. Dubbed “liquid sunshine,” saffron tea has long been recognized as an instant mood enhancer in Iran, where over 90% of the world’s saffron is produced. Other research by Akhondzadeh studied the antidepressant effects of saffron and found it to be as effective in warding off depression as a mild dose of Prozac.
Available at about $14 a gram in stores such as Whole Foods, this amazing spice should be a staple in every household. Keep in mind, however, that its hefty price tag makes it tempting for unscrupulous sellers wanting to make a large profit on low quality or outright fake saffron.
True saffron comes the crocus sativus plant which produces only three stigmas (the source of the saffron threads) per flower. The labor intensive process of harvesting and drying the threads accounts for the spice’s high cost.
Price aside, this all-natural remedy for PMS symptoms and depression is clearly worth its weight in gold.