Saffron: The Golden Spice that Soothes Inflammation in IBD

New Study Suggests Adding Saffron Supplements to Standard-of-Care Ulcerative Colitis Treatment Can Reduce Inflammation and Improve Patient Outcomes

New study suggests saffron supplements could reduce inflammation in ulcerative colitis.

A hand holding pieces of saffron

Did you know that there might be a golden solution for people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis? These chronic inflammatory conditions, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), affect millions of people worldwide. While there is currently no cure for IBD, medications and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms. However, recent research is suggesting that saffron, a beautifully vibrant spice, might hold promise in reducing inflammation and improving clinical manifestations in ulcerative colitis.

The Expensive Spice with Medicinal Powers

Saffron, often referred to as “red gold,” is derived from the Crocus sativus flower and is harvested and dried to create threads of this precious spice. Known for its distinct flavor and aroma, saffron is cultivated primarily in Iran but also in other countries like India, Spain, and Afghanistan. Beyond its culinary uses, saffron has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years and has shown high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Scientific studies are exploring saffron’s potential benefits in various health conditions, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, heart disease, obesity, reducing PMS symptoms, sleep issues, and age-related macular degeneration. Now, researchers at Howard University in Washington, DC, have uncovered its potential in reducing inflammation in people with ulcerative colitis.

Research Findings: Saffron Soothes Inflammation in IBD

In a recent study, researchers recruited 30 participants with ulcerative colitis and divided them into low-dose saffron, high-dose saffron, and placebo groups. The participants took saffron or a placebo twice a day for eight weeks. The researchers measured various scores and inflammatory markers associated with ulcerative colitis before and after the study period.

The results were promising. Participants who took high doses of saffron experienced significant improvements in their depression and disease activity scores, as well as reduced levels of inflammatory biomarkers. The low-dose saffron group also showed improvement in their depression scores. Furthermore, when participants underwent a washout period and then started a second saffron cycle, their inflammatory markers decreased once again, confirming the link between saffron ingestion and gastrointestinal improvements in IBD.

Additionally, saffron supplementation led to a decrease in Gammaproteobacteria and an enrichment in Ruminococcaceae, two types of bacteria that play a role in IBD.

How Does Saffron Help IBD?

The active component of saffron, crocins, may be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects in IBD. Crocins are carotenoids, which give saffron its yellow-red color. Studies suggest that crocins have a range of protective and “anti” properties, such as being cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, neuroprotective, an antidepressant, antiviral, anticancer, and antidiabetic. These properties make it a potential candidate for reducing inflammation and managing gastrointestinal conditions.

Unlocking Nature’s Potential: Other Medicinal Herbs for Ulcerative Colitis

Saffron is not the only medicinal herb being evaluated for its potential in treating ulcerative colitis. Researchers from Kyushu University are studying the use of indigo naturalis, a traditional Chinese medicine, as a treatment for this condition. Indigo naturalis has shown effectiveness in maintaining remission in people with ulcerative colitis.

Future Research and Recommendations

The study on saffron’s benefits in IBD is undoubtedly intriguing, and experts in the field are hopeful for more extensive studies involving larger participant populations. The potential lack of side effects makes saffron an appealing option for managing ulcerative colitis symptoms.

While saffron shows promise, it is essential to adopt a multifaceted approach to treat IBD, which includes addressing diet, gut microflora, targeted supplementation, hydration, stress management, and conventional medicine. The use of saffron should be assessed on an individual basis and may not be suitable for everyone.

As researchers delve deeper into the potential benefits of saffron and other natural remedies, it is crucial to remember that IBD management requires a personalized approach tailored to each individual’s needs. Always consult with your healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplement or treatment into your regimen.

So, why not sprinkle a little saffron into your life and explore its golden potential for managing IBD symptoms? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!


  • Q: Are there any potential side effects of saffron supplementation? A: Saffron supplementation is generally considered safe, but it may interact with certain medications and cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or treatment.

  • Q: Are there other natural remedies that can help with IBD symptoms? A: Yes, there are other natural remedies being investigated for their potential benefits in IBD. Alongside saffron, indigo naturalis, a traditional Chinese medicine, is also showing promise in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis.

  • Q: Can saffron be beneficial for Crohn’s disease as well? A: While saffron’s potential benefits in Crohn’s disease have not been extensively studied, it may be worth exploring. Future research should investigate saffron’s effects on both ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.


Note: The above article is a rewrite and enhancement of the initial content, with additional information, anecdotes, and references incorporated.