Dear Pharmacist,

I crave saffron, and have loved this spice for many years but stopped buying it because it’s expensive. I know you are educated with herbs, can you tell me if there are any health benefits?

--T.S. Ocala, Florida

Answer: Great question, I love saffron too! So precious and resilient is saffron that this centuries-old flower extract is even mentioned in the Bible. Harvested from a type of crocus (Crocus sativus L), the spice is actually the three tiny red stamens that must be plucked from the center of each flower by hand. It’s the most expensive spice you can buy.

Saffron imparts a distinctive taste and aroma along with a lovely yellow color to a variety of exotic dishes. I stir it into rice, soups and teas. As a pharmacist who pays attention to alternative remedies, I can’t help but note that any herb that’s been used for centuries likely has something going for it. Sure enough, researchers are starting to verify the amazing healing potential of saffron in clinical studies.

In Iran, for example, researchers have found that saffron lifted depression as well as fluoxetine (Prozac). For both the herb and the drug “the remission rate was 25 percent.” If you have mild or moderate depression why not give it a try? It won’t interact with medicine as far as I can tell, but do consult with your physician.

Saffron is a super strong antioxidant with ‘housekeeping’ benefits that clean you up from head to toe. Pay attention here because I’m going to summarize the research. Saffron has anti-cancer effects, for all sorts of tumors. It enhances male fertility. It helps relieve anxiety and tension. And ladies, it eases the discomforts of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In Texas, researchers proved that saffron improves circulation to the retina so it’s a promising treatment for macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness. One clinical trial concluded “preliminary evidence of a possible therapeutic effect of saffron extract in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease.” It’s also an anti-spasmodic. Whew! Do you see why I think Saffron is one of the best kept health secrets?!

If you’d like to try a saffron supplement -and I’ve just begun taking one myself- make sure you buy from a reputable company, such as Exir. I have to warn you, pure authentic saffron is expensive, but worth it. Fake makers of it cut the saffron with other yellow-orange spices but Exir is 100 percent saffron, and they source from organic flowers. It’s not popular (yet) so you will need to ask your local health food store to order it, or just buy it online like I did at their website,

Did You Know?

Pain-relieving medications should be taken with food in order to minimize stomach upset and nausea, a very common side effect.

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website,

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)