A randomized clinical trial to test efficacy of chamomile and saffron for neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory responses in depressive patients

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Paediatrics and Child Health; Psychiatry


Depression is one of the common psychiatric problems in growing world population caused by long-term stressful events that may trigger the down regulation of neurogenesis. The pathogenesis of depression initially relies on serotonin deficiency which is associated with depressive feelings. Tryptophan (TRP) depletion participate crucial role in inducing depressive symptoms. Long-term reduction of 5-HT may disseminate to high sensitivity of MDD and alters the level of BDNF. Some studies have also revealed the strong association between excessive neuroinflammation and BDNF levels, due the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The treatment approach through FDA approved medicine has their own merits and drawbacks. Therefore, herbal alternatives have recently garnered attention for their effectiveness against depression. However, evidence-based synergic effects of antidepressant with different herbal agents are limited. The purpose of this study was to assess the synergistic effects of two well-known herbs, chamomile and saffron, as an adjuvant therapy in patients with mild to moderate depression. The present study was study randomized, open, blinded trial and comprised of 120 participants randomly allocated to control (n = 60) and test (n = 60). After consent, the patient health questionnaire- 9 (PHQ-9) was filled to obtain depression scores. The test participants were received herbal tea sachets twice a day for one month (20 mg Chamomile and 1 mg Saffron/sachet) along with routine medicines, while control participants were received only allopathic medications. Blood samples were taken before and after the treatment. The depressive symptoms improved significantly with both treatments. The effect of herbs enhanced the efficacy of medications and significantly improved PHQ-9 scale and BDNF while reduced the inflammatory markers (CRP) and TRP level in plasma thereby increased the availability of TRP in brain. It has been concluded that the herbal adjuvant therapy produced long term improvement against depression and enhanced the efficacy of allopathic treatment.


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