Efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) in treatment of major depressive disorder associated with post-menopausal hot flashes: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial
Purpose: Due to concerns regarding the side effects of hormone therapy, many studies have focused on the development of non-hormonal agents for treatment of hot flashes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of saffron (stigma of Crocus sativus) in treatment of major depressive disorder associated with post-menopausal hot flashes.
Methods: Sixty women with post-menopausal hot flashes participated in this study. The patients randomly received either saffron (30 mg/day, 15 mg twice per day) or placebo for 6 weeks. The patients were assessed using the Hot Flash-Related Daily Interference Scale (HFRDIS), Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and the adverse event checklist at baseline and also at the second, fourth, and sixth weeks of the study.
Results: Fifty-six patients completed the trial. Baseline characteristics of the participants did not differ significantly between the two groups. General linear model repeated measures demonstrated significant effect for time × treatment interaction on the HFRDIS score [F (3, 162) = 10.41, p = 0.0001] and HDRS score [F (3, 162) = 5.48, p = 0.001]. Frequency of adverse events was not significantly different between the two groups.
Conclusions: Results from this study revealed that saffron is a safe and effective treatment in improving hot flashes and depressive symptoms in post-menopausal healthy women. On the other hand, saffron, with fewer side effects, may provide a non-hormonal and alternative herbal medicine option in treatment of women with hot flashes.
Keywords: Crocus sativus; Depression; Hot flashes; Saffron; Trial.