by Samantha Key, Femma Pharmacist in Charge
You may be familiar with saffron as the brilliant red threads in your spice cupboard, but did you know that saffron has some amazing health benefits? Saffron is most commonly used for its serotonergic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties(1). For this reason saffron is used to support healthy mood and emotional well-being. It has been shown to improve mood, reduce anxiety symptoms and reduce depression symptoms(2).
Saffron is generally well tolerated and can also be taken in addition to most prescription antidepressants.
Lavender is well known as an essential oil with a delightful aroma used to help with stress and anxiety. It can also be taken as a convenient concentrated oral capsule. Lavender works via the serotonin receptors in the brain(3). Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for mood balance. Studies have shown that taking lavender oil can improve your anxiety symptoms(4). Lavender is also well tolerated and can be taken alongside other anxiety medications.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the mood balance and a healthy nervous system. Your body gets most of its Vitamin D intake from exposure to sunlight and small amounts through dietary sources such as salmon and eggs(5). Vitamin D also works on the serotonergic pathway in the brain so supplementing vitamin D if you have low levels, may increase serotonin levels(6). Through this pathway vitamin D supplements can improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms(7).
Vitamin B complex
There are 8 types of vitamin B: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12. These are essential for many metabolic pathways in the body including energy production. B vitamins do not give you more energy, rather they support the way your body uses carbohydrates, fats and protein as energy sources(8). Some vitamin B supplements are available in an inactive and an active form. The benefit of taking the active form is that your body doesn’t have to spend time and energy converting the inactive form into a form it is able to utilise. Some of the B vitamins work together synergistically so that taking a B complex supplement can have improved benefits over the individual B vitamins.
As always, chat with your pharmacist if you are taking any other medications before starting a new complementary medicine.
- Lopresti AL, Drummond PD. Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action. Hum Psychopharmacol 2014;29(6):517-527