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J Affect Disord. 2018 May;232:349-357. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.02.070. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

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.

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School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia 6150, Australia. Electronic address:
School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia 6150, Australia.
Pharmactive Biotech Products S.L. Parque Científico de Madrid, C/Faraday, 7, 28049 Madrid, Spain.
Instituto de Investigación en Ciencias de la Alimentación CIAL (CEI CSIC-UAM), C/ Nicolás Cabrera, 9, 28049 Madrid, Spain.



Saffron has antidepressant and anxiolytic effects in adults with mild-to-moderate depression. However, this is the first study examining its mood-related effects in teenagers.


In this 8-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, youth aged 12-16 years, with mild-to-moderate anxiety or depressive symptoms were given tablets containing placebo or a saffron extract (affron®, 14 mg b.i.d). The youth and parent versions of the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS) were used as outcome measures.


80 participants were enrolled and 68 completed the study. Based on youth self-reports, affron® was associated with greater improvements in overall internalising symptoms (p = 0.049), separation anxiety (p = 0.003), social phobia (p = 0.023), and depression (p = 0.016). Total internalising scores decreased by an average of 33% compared to 17% in the placebo group (p = 0.029). However, parental reports of improvements were inconsistent as mean improvements in RCADS scores were greater in the saffron group (40% vs 26%) (p = 0.026), although no other significant differences were identified. affron® was well-tolerated and there was a trend of reduced headaches in participants on the active treatment.


The use of a self-report instrument, limited study duration, single treatment dose, and non-clinical sample used in this study limit the generalisability of study findings.


The administration of a standardised saffron extract (affron®) for 8 weeks improved anxiety and depressive symptoms in youth with mild-to-moderate symptoms, at least from the perspective of the adolescent. However, these beneficial effects were inconsistently corroborated by parents.


Anxiety; Clinical trial; Depression; Saffron extract; Teenager; Youth

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