It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before using saffron. Safety concerns with this supplement apply to people with certain health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, liver disease, or kidney disease. Precautions and warnings also extend to people with certain allergies and to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, it is important to buy a saffron supplement that is made by a reputable manufacturer.
Is Saffron Safe?Although saffron is best known as a spice, it is also used as an herbal supplement to treat a variety of conditions. You may not be able to take saffron safely if you have:
- Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression)
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
- Any allergies, including allergies to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Saffron Warnings and PrecautionsWarnings and precautions to be aware of concerning the safety of saffron include the following:
- Saffron has been reported to cause hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, often characterized by an elated mood, rapid speech, and other unusual behavior (such as irresponsible spending and hypersexuality). This may especially be a problem for people with bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, do not take saffron without your healthcare provider's approval and supervision.
- If you have liver or kidney disease, check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement, including saffron. Many medications and supplements are removed from the body using the liver and kidneys.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified saffron as "generally recognized as safe" for use in food. However, this does not mean that it is safe for medicinal use, which is usually at higher doses than when used in food.
- It is not known if saffron supplements can interact with other supplements or medications (see Saffron Drug Interactions).
- Saffron is not safe for pregnant women (see Saffron and Pregnancy).
- It is not known if saffron is safe for breastfeeding women (see Saffron and Breastfeeding).
- If you decide to use supplements, what you see on the label may not reflect what is in the bottle. For example, some herbal supplements have been found to be contaminated with heavy metals or prescription drugs, and some have been found to have much more or much less of the featured ingredient than the label states.
Therefore, make sure the manufacturer of your saffron supplement is trusted and reputable. It is a good sign if a manufacturer abides by the rules of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for drugs. It is also a good sign if a product has the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) seal, which means that the product has been independently tested and shown to contain the correct ingredients in the amounts listed on the label. Your pharmacist is a good resource for information about which manufacturers are the most reputable.