Saffron set to spice up research into depression in adolescents

Saffron set to spice up research into depression in adolescents

MURDOCH University researchers are investigating whether saffron can be used to treat depression and anxiety in adolescents.

School of Psychology and Exercise Science researcher Adrian Lopresti said previous studies had found saffron was a promising natural option for the treatment of mild to moderate depression in adults.

“However, the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect of saffron in children and adolescents has never been examined,” he said.

Dr Lopresti has conducted significant work in this field, establishing the effectiveness of both turmeric and saffron on alleviating anxiety and depression.

“Our studies over the past few years have shown that turmeric and saffron work slightly differently to alleviate depression,” he said.

“Curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, is effective at reducing inflammation whereas saffron’s powerful antioxidant properties remove free radicals from the body.

“Both of these effects help to boost neurotransmitter production, which in turn raises serotonin levels.”

Dr Lopresti and his colleague Professor Peter Drummond are now investigating saffron’s potential to reduce depressive and anxiety symptoms in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16.

“Participants will take saffron capsules for eight weeks and we will examine the effect on their mood through online questionnaires,” Dr Lopresti said.

They are looking for 80 West Australians suffering from moodiness or mild anxiety between the ages of 12 and 16 years to participate in the trial.

To register your interest, contact Adrian Lopresti on 9448 7376 or email a.lopresti@murdoch.edu.au.