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Saffron for more sex drive and increased fat burning?

Richard Staudner
Richard Staudner

The Optimizer

We have already discussed how effective saffron can be on our mental health and sleep quality in a previous post. Today, we'd like to look at how saffron affects our metabolism and hormone balance. The rumors surrounding the increase in libido and fat burning are too tempting not to look into this topic.

Does saffron help you lose weight?

Large meta-analyses compared the results of individual studies and came to the conclusion that our body weight or BMI (body mass index) are not reduced by saffron. Interestingly, however, the abdominal circumference, or rather the ratio of abdominal circumference to hip circumference, probably is. These are particularly important health parameters, especially in people with obesity. A high abdominal girth is a risk factor for metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc.).

Saffron as fuel for our metabolism?

Other markers for a healthy metabolism could also be influenced, such as blood lipid levels. However, the studies are not in agreement here. In particular, the most recent meta-analysis published in 2022 shows us that there is usually no relevant change here. Older meta-analyses saw isolated improvements in triglycerides, cholesterol or HDL. It is the same with blood pressure. Some say yes, it is reduced, others say no. Finally, even if the effect is there, it seems so small that it may not be relevant in practice or there may be more effective measures for these problems. Such as fasting, for example.

In relation to diabetes, theories have been put forward again and again, although most studies here are still animal studies. In any case, the long-term glucose value HbA1c cannot be influenced, the fasting blood glucose presumably also not, possibly with a longer duration of intake, it is speculated. In general, we simply need more studies on this point.

The influence on the liver was also investigated. Elevated liver enzymes indicate a damaged liver, for example due to inflammation. There are assumptions that saffron could reduce this, but unfortunately other meta-analyses refute this. What is exciting is the exact breakdown of the individual studies by Mousavi et al. 2022, which shows us that liver values were improved in some studies, not affected in some, and even greatly worsened in some! Depending on which studies are then added together in the meta-analyses, very different results can come out and people seem to respond very differently. Yes welcome to science!

Individual summaries also mention positive effects on eyes, rheumatism, cancer or kidneys. However, there is still a real lack of data to draw definitive conclusions. Rather, these results invite research.

Sexual Health

Saffron is traditionally considered a sexual enhancer and this has been studied. For men, the results say: Saffron can increase satisfaction and help with erectile dysfunction, but not with mental arousal and probably not with pleasure and orgasm. In women, saffron can reduce pain, increase arousal and lubrication, but again there is no correlation with orgasms. Why saffron helps here is not yet clear.

In women, according to 2 initial studies, it should also provide relief from PMS discomfort. Here, too, further results are needed.

How does saffron work?

We now know from studies that saffron has an antioxidant effect. Oxidative substances attack, among other things, the fats in our body. As we know, our fats are very important, especially those that make up cell walls, which we also need in the mitochondria. Saffron supplementation protects against damage to these lipids (recognizable by the marker "MDA"). In addition, total antioxidant capacity (TAC) may also be improved. This speaks to the state the body is in. A high antioxidant capacity means that the body is well armed for oxidative processes and thus against cell damage.

Dosage

In studies for physical complaints, a dosage of 100 mg/day is described. Here the effect is better than at 30 mg/day. In general, saffron is considered safe up to dosages of 1.5g/day, only from 5g daily harmful effects occur. Unfortunately, it is not yet well studied how saffron behaves together with other drugs or supplements and also the long-term effects are not yet deeply investigated. Last but not least, preparations with uniform and standardized active ingredient content are needed.

By the way, mild side effects are also described again and again, which have been studied especially when taken for mental health. You can find more about this in the blog post "Saffron and its effect on our mental health".

Attention!

Despite all this, there is one thing to keep in mind about all the studies: Most, almost all, of the studies were conducted in Iran. We always want to have as diverse a population as possible in studies so that we can apply the results to as many people as possible. We now know that people from different ethnic backgrounds are also biologically different. Therefore, we very much wish that these effects of saffron described here are also studied in other parts of the world!

Conclusion

We summarize: Saffron may help reduce waist circumference, but it doesn't seem to help with weight loss. Researchers also disagree on diabetes, blood lipid levels, liver values and kidneys. What does appear, however, is that saffron may help with erectile dysfunction in men and sexual dysfunction in women, such as lubrication or pain. But more studies would be needed, especially long-term studies and international research. You can also find this article as a podcast in the "Rich Headroom"!

Spicy greetings 🙂

Richard Staudner
The Optimizer

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