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The role of saffron (Crocus sativus L) on testosterone and depression in andropause middle-aged and elderly men: a systematic review

Shirin Amini (Department of Nutrition, Shoushtar Faculty of Medical Sciences, Shoushtar, Iran)
Houra Mohseni (School of Para-medicine Sciences, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran)
Behnaz Abiri (Obesity Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran, and)
Sima Jafarirad (Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Research Center, Clinical Sciences Research Institute, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 20 July 2023

Issue publication date: 21 November 2023




Depression is one of the most overlooked psychiatric disorders among middle-aged and elderly men. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) stigmas are a favorite and common spice that is used as an antidepressant, an anti-inflammatory and a sexual stimulant. This systematic review aimed to provide a comprehensive survey of the effects of saffron on depression in middle-aged and elderly men.


The authors searched Web of Science, PubMed, ProQuest, Cochrane, Science Direct, Scopus and Google Scholar databases to gather any relevant studies published from 1980 to September 2022. This review included studies that examined the relationship between depression and testosterone concentration (four studies) or saffron’s effects on testosterone and depression (six studies).


Observational research showed an association between testosterone and depression in middle-aged and elderly men. Furthermore, animal studies have found that saffron increased testosterone levels and decreased depression in males. There is evidence that testosterone may contribute to the mood. Besides its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this study proposed scientific mechanisms that saffron may also play a protective role against depression through its influence on testosterone, in middle-aged and elderly men. The general use of saffron at high doses or for prolonged periods may cause side effects; therefore, it is important to consult a health-care professional before the recommended dosage and duration of saffron supplementation, especially if a person has any underlying health conditions or is taking medications.


This study provides researchers with an additional perspective for conducting clinical trials on the use of saffron to enhance the mood of elderly men with testosterone deficiency.



Funding: There was no financial support.

Author contributions: S.A. conceived and designed the study, analyzed and interpreted the data, and wrote and revised the manuscript. B.A. was involved in the data interpretation, manuscript writing and critical revision. H.M. contributed to the interpretation of the data and manuscript writing. S.J. contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript. The final version of the manuscript was approved by all authors.

Conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.


Amini, S., Mohseni, H., Abiri, B. and Jafarirad, S. (2023), "The role of saffron (Crocus sativus L) on testosterone and depression in andropause middle-aged and elderly men: a systematic review", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 53 No. 8, pp. 1419-1436.



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