More than a hundred million men all over the world are suffering from erectile dysfunction while one in twenty men are battling infertility. However, not all of them can avail of conventional medical treatments, either because it’s too expensive or it’s just not accessible.
This helps explain why men afflicted with sexual dysfunction are opting for traditional natural remedies. And among the many natural remedies for impotence and infertility, saffron is gaining recognition as a potent treatment.
Saffron, considered as the most expensive spice, is well-known in Middle Eastern and Ayurvedic traditional medicine as a natural remedy for various conditions. The stigma of the plant’s flower is used not only to add spicy flavoring to food but also as a medicine.
Traditionally, saffron is used for respiratory disorders such as asthma and cough. It is also considered a sedative and is used to help people with insomnia. For cardiovascular health, saffron can be used to alleviate atherosclerosis. For mental health, saffron can help treat depression and shock.
Saffron was also used to treat eye problems as well as urinary problems. Aside from its uses as a condiment, saffron was also used in historical times as a dye and a perfume.
Saffron contains phenols and flavonoids which are known antioxidants. Its antioxidant actions are similar to that of carotenoids found in vegetables. Crocin, safranal, crocetin, and picocrocin are just a few of the many antioxidant compounds found in saffron.
These antioxidants help modulate enzymes that are involved in detoxifying the body and fighting oxidative stress. Safranal has also been found to prevent oxidative stress in bronchial epithelial cells, which helps explain why saffron is an effective natural remedy for respiratory diseases.
In general, plants with antioxidant properties are considered helpful in improving sperm parameters and saffron is no exception. Sperm cells are vulnerable to oxidative stress. And if they’re exposed to free radicals, it can result in abnormal sperm morphology like having two tails or a deformed head. Free radicals and oxidative stress can also reduce sperm motility rates.
Saffron can help prevent such damages to sperm cells. In one study, more than fifty infertile men were treated with saffron three times a week for three months. After the treatment, it was found that the subjects’ sperm morphology and sperm motility greatly improved.
Varicoceles are considered as one of the most common, if not the number one, cause of male infertility. A varicocele happens when the veins inside the scrotum get enlarged. This leads to reduced sperm production and poor sperm quality. In one study involving infertile men with varicocele, saffron treatment for six months resulted in improved sperm motility.
When doctors screen for erectile dysfunction, they look at various factors that may have caused the condition, such as anti-depressant medications. When impotence is medication-induced, it normally goes away once you stop taking the medication. However, taking supplements to remedy your erectile dysfunction is always an option.
In one study, the effects of saffron on drug-induced erectile dysfunction were investigated. The study involved married men suffering from major depressive disorder. The depressive symptoms of the patients were stabilized through fluoxetine, an anti-depressant medication.
As a side-effect of the medication, the men suffered drug-induced erectile dysfunction. Those who were treated with saffron showed significant improvement in terms of erectile function after four weeks of treatment, as compared to the placebo group.
The saffron group also had higher intercourse satisfaction scores than the control group. After the treatment period, only one patient in the placebo group recovered normal erectile function whereas there were nine patients in the saffron group.
In another study, the subject patients were suffering from erectile dysfunction due to diabetes. This time, the treatment used was a starch-based gel which contained saffron. The placebo was also in gel form and similarly packaged. The instructions were for the patients to topically apply the gel on their penis thirty minutes before sex, with one group using the saffron gel and the other group using the placebo gel.
After a month of treatment, the patients who were using the saffron gel had significantly higher erectile function scores compared to those who were using the placebo gel. The saffron group also had higher scores in terms of sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, as well as orgasmic function.
The results of these studies indicate that saffron is a safe natural remedy for erectile dysfunction caused by anti-depressant medications and by diabetes. Saffron’s crocetin content is believed to be the reason why the spice is effective in treating erectile dysfunction.
Crocetin affects nitric oxide production in the vascular endothelial cells. Because of this effect, crocetin is considered helpful in promoting penile blood flow.
Aside from saffron’s use as an aphrodisiac and treatment for infertility and erectile dysfunction, saffron is also considered beneficial to mental health.
Recent studies have shown that crocetin, an apocarotenoid antioxidant found in saffron, has neuroprotective properties. In animal models, crocetin has been found to protect the brain cells from degeneration caused by Parkinson’s disease.
Saffron is also associated with short-term improvements in the cognitive abilities of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Crocin, another antioxidant found in saffron, has been found to help improve learning and memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have also shown that saffron is effective in treating depression. The anti-depressant properties of saffron are believed to be due to its ability to increase the levels of dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. The various antioxidants found in saffron also exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, and this is considered as one of the ways by which saffron helps relieve depression.
Saffron is considered to be a good natural remedy for mild to moderate depression. In fact, one study reported that saffron is as effective as synthetic anti-depressants in treating depression. Other studies have also shown that the petals of saffron had the same anti-depressant effects as the stigma of the saffron flower.