Saffron: Spice Up Depression and Help Digestion
Saffron is a well-known Persian spice used for its ability to help the digestive system heal. Because most neurotransmitters are made in the digestive tract, this might be the reason saffron has been shown in studies to elevate low mood. As the most expensive spice, it is high in carotenoids and B vitamins. In studies, saffron has been compared to both Prozac and Imipramine, and found to work at least as well, or better, with less side effects.
While the petal is the expensive part of the herb, you can also take capsules of the stigma part of the plant, which is less expensive, but still contains the powerful mood-enhancing ingredients. Studies use a dose of 15 mg twice a day. No toxicity has been shown when taking saffron in therapeutic amounts or in cooking.
5-HTP for Depression With Anxiety
5-hyrdroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid found in low amounts in foods like turkey and bananas. 5-HTP is the molecule the body uses to make serotonin, a molecule that helps elevate mood. While many antidepressants artificially stop the production of enzymes that breakdown serotonin, 5-HTP gives the body more of the raw materials it needs to make more serotonin. 5-HTP is very good at crossing the blood brain barrier, which means it is a molecule that can get into the brain to help achieve a needed change in brain chemistry.
5-HTP is best used with someone who has both depression and anxiety. It is also an effective choice for people who have insomnia and cannot stay asleep. Finally, there is some research that suggests it has benefit with weight loss.
While there are no known toxicities of 5-HTP, some people can get a little nausea when taking 5-HTP, so it helps to take it with some carbohydrate, like a slice of apple, which will also help its absorption. We often dose it at 100 mg twice a day, up to 200 mg three times a day.