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Saffron and Asthma

9/17/2019 5:21:45 PM
saffronSaffron (Crocus sativus L.) has traditionally been used as an herbal medicine for depression, heart disease, sleep disorders, and stress.  It contains active constituents that exert anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Based on animal models of allergic asthma, researchers have concluded that saffron might reduce airway inflammation, hyper-responsiveness, and muscle contraction. The first clinical trial of saffron for allergic asthma was published in 2019 in Respiratory Research.

Study examines saffron for asthma in otherwise healthy individuals

Eighty men and women (aged 18-65) with mild or moderate allergic asthma participated in the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Participants had no diseases besides asthma and consumed no medications besides asthma medications. Participants took 2 capsules (50 mg each) per day of dried saffron or a placebo for 8 weeks. The primary outcomes were clinical symptoms of asthma and asthma severity. Secondary outcomes were eosinophils, basophils, blood pressure, and lipid profiles.
For the duration of the study, there were no serious adverse events. All measured asthma clinical symptoms improved from baseline in the saffron group, whereas only shortness of breath at night improved from baseline in the placebo group. These symptoms included shortness of breath during the day and night, activity limitation due to asthma, waking up due to asthma, and frequency of rescue medication use. Furthermore, between group comparisons the degree of clinical improvement in these symptoms in the saffron group was significantly better than that in the placebo group (p<.001).

Results show saffron reduces asthma symptoms, severity

There was there was an 18.4% reduction in overall severity of asthma from baseline in the saffron group and only a 2.6% reduction in the placebo group. However, there was no significant difference seen between the 2 groups in the mean change of overall severity.
For secondary outcome measures, there were no significant changes in eosinophils or basophils but significant improvements in blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL-cholesterol.
The study concludes that 100mg per day of dried saffron may have beneficial effects on asthma symptoms, severity, blood pressure, and lipid profiles. More studies are needed to replicate these results.
Zilaee M, Hosseini SA, Jafarirad S et al. An evaluation of the effects of saffron supplementation on the asthma clinical symptoms and asthma severity in patients with mild and moderate persistent allergic asthma: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Respir Res. 2019; 20: 39.