A Natural Multi-Target Approach for Alzheimer’s Disease, Part II

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Thanks to the hundreds of studies in recent years, saffron and its main active constituent crocin have been found as particularly promising agents for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases (Finley & Gao 2017, Shaterzadeh-Yazdi 2018).

Highlights of crocin/saffron studies in recent years:

  • Crocin is identified as the main active constituent of saffron and primarily responsible for saffron’s various biological effects.
  • Crocin/saffron boosts brain activities and improves or reverse memory and cognitive impairments.
  • Crocin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent with strong neuroprotective effects.
  • Crocin/saffron tightens and maintains the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.
  • Crocin/saffron lowers amyloid load and inhibits hyperphosphorylation of tau protein.
  • Crocin/saffron reduces multiple risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s.

Clinical studies of saffron in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI):

Number of
Subjects

Duration &
Type of study

Disease

Treatment

Dose

Route

Effects

References

35

12 months
single-blind

Mild cognitive impairment

Saffron extract

125mg/day

oral

Patients on saffron had improved cognitive impairment MMSE (p=0.015), specific domains observed by MRI, brain activation by EEG, while the control group presented continued deterioration.

Tsolaki (2016)

46

16 weeks
double-blind

Mild-to-moderate AD

Saffron extract

30mg/day

oral

Saffron significantly improved cognitive function in patients in comparison to placebo.

Akhondzadeh (2010)a

54

22 weeks
double-blind

Mild-to-moderate AD

Donepezil
Saffron extract

10mg/day
30mg/day

oral

Saffron was as effective as donepezil measured by ADAS-cog and CDR-SB and with fewer side effects in the treatment of AD patients.

Akhondzadeh (2010)b

68

12 months
double-blind

Moderate-to-severe
AD

Memantine
Saffron extract

20mg/day
30mg/day

oral

Saffron exhibited similar efficacy to memantine in the prevention of cognitive decline with a favorable safety profile.

Farokhnia (2014)

 

With these clinical and preclinical indications, supplements made with FDA approved crocin ingredients and other potent dietary antioxidants can be formulated as a natural dietary and multi-target approach to offer a promising, safe, relatively low cost and effective alternative to address the multifactorial nature of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Reference

  1. Finley JW, Gao S. Perspective on Crocus sativus L. (Saffron) Constituent Crocin: A Potent Water-Soluble Antioxidant and Potential Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease. Agric. Food Chem. 2017, 65, 1005−1020.
  2. Shaterzadeh-Yazdi H, et al. Effects of Crocins in the Management of Neurodegenerative Pathologies: A Review. Neurophysiology, 2018, 50(4). DOI 10.1007/s11062-018-9752-0.
  3. Tsolaki M, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Crocus sativus L. in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment: One Year Single-Blind Randomized, with Parallel Groups, Clinical Trial. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2016; 54: 129–133.
  4. Akhondzadeh S, et al. A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacology. 2010, 207: 637–643.
  5. Akhondzadeh S, et al. Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 16-week, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. J of Clin Pharm and There. 2010, 35: 581–588.
  6. Farokhnia M, et al. Comparing the efficacy and safety of Crocus sativus L. with memantine in patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease: a double-blind randomized clinical trial. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp 2014; 29: 351–359.

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