Can this spice help your weight-loss efforts?

Waist 415 kBSaffron, a delicious spice used to enhance the flavor of certain foods since antiquity, has also long been suspected of enhancing mood and relieving stress (84,85).

Thought to target snacking between meals, now the extract of saffron is being touted as a supplement to facilitate an overall weight-loss program.

In clinical studies (90,91), women taking this supplement have reported feeling better about oneself and changed eating behavior (greater sense of control over between-meal snacking), specifically noting:

  1. Reduced desire to snack,
  2. Fewer instances of between-meal-snacking,
  3. Less hunger,
  4. Moderate weight-loss,
  5. More energy,
  6. Better mood.

Extract of this herb is thought to enhance mood by its effect on brain serotonin receptors (86,89).

My (limited) understanding of this herb is that it is often used both with dinner and before bed.  Its effect is often described as calming, relaxing, helping one wind down.  Effects are said to be slow in coming and subtle.  And with discontinuation of the supplement appetite goes back up and mood back down.

Anxiety, irritability, and feeling down are said to be reduced and energy, motivation and mood enhanced. Between-meal snacking, struggle with “food thoughts,” cravings, and hunger pangs decrease are said to be reduced, and meal satisfaction is prolonged. It’s also been said to decrease hot flashes (which could be due to its effect on serotonin).

This is not the first pharmaceutical and/or nutritional supplement which has been promoted to help with eating impulse control.

Interestingly, all these same benefits are often reported by those who adhere to a sound medically designed weight-loss and weight-maintenance program.

My thought on saffron extract (as well as most other similarly touted supplements) is that when it comes to weight-loss, if it isn’t used in conjunction with an overall and medically sound weight-loss strategy, at best it’s effect is negligible.

At worst, in allowing oneself to indulge in single-bullet false-hope, (relying on a supplement or drug), one is advancing one step closer to demoralization and declaring, “I tried everything and nothing can help me.”

When in truth one has yet to scratch the surface in their weight-loss journey–they have yet to learn the intricacies of much more profound (and powerful) drivers of physical hunger and satisfaction.

Most telling is that this supplement (saffron extract) is said to help with food cravings by helping brain serotonin receptors, an approach which other (more powerful) medical nutritional protocols help with.

Contrary to popular disparagement mantras, many individuals on a committed weight-loss quest DO find healthy and lasting success and many times the foundation of their personal victory is education and knowledge coupled with valuable experience.

Needless to say this success comes without the use ‘encapsulated herbal extracts’, beyond the use of fresh herbs which enable our savory kitchen creations to smell and taste, mouth-wateringly good!

For many lasting weight maintenance success is achievable without much conversation at all about anxiety, depression and mood. For many, when underlying nutritional issues are balanced out, uncontrollable food cravings and thoughts naturally fade away.

For others, when emotions truly are presenting themselves as an obstacle to adhering to a medically sound weight-loss protocol, a consultation with a health care provider who is both understanding and sympathetic toward your challenges and your your life-long healthy-weight quest, can be invaluable.

If this describes you, I would not hesitate in recommending that you talk with an appropriate provider.


This information is not to be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your health care provider for anything related to your health including but not limited to diagnosis, treatment advice and/or care. Always seek the advice of a health care professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone.