Crocin/Saffron is Good for Sleep Problems

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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a third of US adults have sleep problems. Not having enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. CDC’s guideline recommends adults get an average of at least seven hours of sleep a night. Prolonged lack of sleep has been linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Several studies have indicated that disrupted sleep, sleep apnea, various disorders of breathing can be deleterious with regard to cognitive function, and maybe even the development of AD1. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, said the theory behind the sleep-Alzheimer's link has to do with amyloid, one of the proteins thought to cause AD. Good sleep in the night helps clear amyloid protein from the brain. Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality were linked to elevated levels of amyloid protein, tau protein, brain cell damage, and inflammation, which are Alzheimer's disease biomarkers2-4. Recent published human studies from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis5,6 “provided the clearest confirmation that sleep disruption leads to an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease through an amyloid beta mechanism," said senior author Randall Bateman, MD, the Charles F. and Joanne Knight Distinguished Professor of Neurology. Therefore, having enough quality sleep in the night is a basic need for good health.

Saffron has been traditionally used for the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and other diseases of the nervous systems. Recent studies found saffron capsule intake significantly improved anxiety and quality of sleep assessed by Spielberger Anxiety Inventory and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) in diabetic patients7. As crocin and crocetin are the two major active components responsible for the various pharmacological activities of saffron, scientists in Japan investigated both crocin and crocetin. They found crocin markedly increased sleep quality measured by the total time of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep in experimental animals and was more effective than crocetin8. A study of crocetin in 21 healthy adult men with a mild sleep complaint from Kansai University of Welfare Sciences in Japan reported that crocetin improved the quality of sleep in the subjects assessed by actigraph and by using St Mary’s Hospital Sleep Questionnaire. Most recently, crocin was found to significantly improved sleep quality, depression, anxiety, and general health in 8 weeks among patients who were under Methadone maintenance treatment9.

References:

  1. Sleep quality and preclinical Alzheimer disease. JAMA Neurol. 2013; 70(5): 587-93
  2. Sleep in Alzheimer's Disease–Beyond Amyloid. Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms.2017, 2: 4-14
  3. Poor sleep is associated with CSF biomarkers of amyloid pathology in cognitively normal adults. Neurology. 2017; 89(5): 445-453
  4. Sleep Disturbance Linked to Amyloid in Brain Areas Affected by Alzheimer's Disease. American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
  5. Effect of sleep on overnight CSF amyloid-β kinetics. Ann Neurol. 2017 Dec 8. doi: 10.1002/ana.25117.
  6. Circadian Rest-Activity Pattern Changes in Aging and Preclinical Alzheimer Disease. JAMA Neurol, 2018; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.4719
  7. Effect of saffron oral capsule on anxiety and quality of sleep of diabetic patients in a tertiary healthcare facility in southeastern Iran: A quasi-experimental study. Trop J Pharm Res, 2017; 16(11): 2749-2753.
  8. Crocin promotes non-rapid eye movement sleep in mice. Nutr. Food Res. 2012, 56, 304–308.
  9. The effects of crocin on psychological parameters in patients under methadone maintenance treatment: a randomized clinical trial. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2019; 14: 9. doi: 10.1186/s13011-019-0198-1

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