The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Saffron Delay Age-Related Macular Degeneration?

A reader got great results taking saffron for age-related macular degeneration, along with AREDS vitamins. A few studies support its efficacy.
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As people grow older, the retina of the eye may deteriorate. In particular, the central part of the retina, known as the macula, is very vulnerable. Age-related macular degeneration causes visual impairment in older adults more often than other eye conditions. Are there any ways to slow it down?

Saffron for Age-Related Macular Degeneration:

Q. Some months ago, you had a letter from a person who was taking saffron for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Since I have AMD, I am willing to try anything that might alleviate symptoms.

I began taking the spice with no real idea of how much I should use. At my next eye exam, there was definitely improvement, something my eye doctor said he had never seen. This improvement has continued through three subsequent exams. In fact, the AMD has almost completely disappeared in one eye.

I have also been taking specific eye vitamins (AREDS) along with the saffron, but I had been taking them prior to taking saffron with no improvement. Why didn’t you mention saffron to the reader who was looking for something to keep her age-related macular degeneration from getting worse?

Not everyone may benefit as I have from this spice, but every AMD sufferer should consider it. It’s relatively inexpensive. Actually, I would have paid thousands for the improvement I’ve received. Thank you so very much for the information you provided that has helped me see improvement in slowing my AMD.

Is There Science Behind Saffron?

A. What a great story! Since the initial column you read two years ago, scientists have done further research on saffron for protecting the retina and helping macular degeneration. Italian researchers found that AMD patients taking 20 mg/day saffron had no deterioration of vision over more than two years, while those taking the recommended nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin did (Antioxidants, July 17, 2019).

A separate randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial in Australia tested saffron at 20 mg/day against placebo in 100 people with age-related macular degeneration (Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, Jan. 2019). 

The investigators concluded

“Saffron supplementation modestly improved visual function in participants with AMD, including those using AREDS supplements. Given the chronic nature of AMD, longer-term supplementation may produce greater benefits.”

Those on saffron had no more side effects than those on placebo.

We agree that AMD patients should discuss saffron supplements with their ophthalmologists. Taking saffron together with AREDS vitamins seems to provide additional benefit.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Di Marco S et al, "Saffron: A multitask neuroprotective agent for retinal degenerative diseases." Antioxidants, July 17, 2019. DOI: 10.3390/antiox8070224
  • Broadhead GK et al, "Saffron therapy for the treatment of mild/moderate age-related macular degeneration: A randomised clinical trial." Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, Jan. 2019. DOI: 10.1007/s00417-018-4163-x
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It is important to specify which type of AMD you are talking about. Is it the WET or DRY type?

Please respond!

Apparently, more effective in the wet type.

You can buy saffron at It is not expensive and there are numerous brands offered.

Sounds interesting. However, saffron is VERY expensive. Where does one buy saffron to take for the macular degeneration? If you take the spice itself, how much do you take?

Has there been any research on saffron PREVENTING age-related macular degeneration? Genetic testing shows I am in the highest risk category for developing it. I am going to be 50 this year, and I am already taking AREDS as a preventive, but I will certainly add saffron to my regimen if it has been shown to be useful.

Is this about saffron the spice for cooking? If so please tell me the suggested amount by household measure. If by pill, where can it be purchased?

Is saffron extract as effective as regular saffron ?

“Those on saffron had no more side effects than those on placebo.” What were the side effects?

I have been taking saffron for 9 months, and it has not helped my macular degeneration. So yes, it will effect some people differently. I wish it had worked. I will continue till my next checkup.

How do you measure 20mg of Saffron ?

I’d also like to know where to get Saffron supplements. Also, is there any benefit to those of us with myopic macular degeneration, or any other preventive supplements you know of? Thank you!

Has anyone had improvement in Stargardts hereditary macular degeneration with saffron?


Where does one find legitimate saffron supplements?

Where or where do you find this wonder herb in a pill? Checked today at our compounding local pharmacy, and they had never heard of it. Considering the price of saffron for cooking, please tell us more. Or should we visit an Indian grocery and buy it in bulk?

I love your website and have followed it for years. You offer so much excellent information, such as this report on saffron.

However, I print articles for my “computerless” friends by highlighting the text without the photos/superfluous info printing out the article on one page most of the time, but I’m not able to do this now. Using the print button, this short article prints out exactly as it appears on the screen – 4 pages!

Please add a “true” print friendly option, as this is such a waste of paper and ink. Thank you, and keep up the great work!

What about the intense yellow color of the saffron spice? I remember years ago mom using just a few tiny strands in rice. It was also very expensive. I wonder if the supplement is also and if it contains the ingredient that makes saffron so yellow. I would be concerned about it affecting one’s skin color by causing a yellow hue and appearing jaundiced.

My mother had macular degeneration. Will Saffron help me protect me from getting it?

At the end of this article and numerous others there is a “Rate this article” 4.2 – 20 ratings” I click on View Comments, and at the top of the new window it says, “No comments yet, start the conversation.”

Does this mean that there are 20 ratings, and no one left a comment?

Is there any study that supports taking saffron preventively?
I don’t have AMD, but it affects several elderly family members. I’m 58 and concerned. Thank you! Great article!!

Hopeful advice. Does saffron adversely affect the liver? I have AMD but also PBC.

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