Research demonstrates effects of saffron extracts on melatonin production

Published: 13-Sep-2023

A study has revealed the effect of Pharmactive Biotech's affron saffron extract on the human body’s endogenous production of melatonin

Results of a new study have demonstrated that the standardised affron saffron extract boosts the body’s endogenous production of melatonin. Melatonin—nicknamed the “sleep hormone”—is naturally produced in the body from the dietary amino acid tryptophan.

Among other roles, melatonin helps synchronise the sleep–wake cycle and other circadian rhythms and helps adjust for seasonal changes in sleep timing. It has become one of the most commonly used treatment for sleep disorders.

Pharmactive Biotech Products, owners and manufacturers of affron brand natural saffron ingredient, prized for its action in maintaining positive mood, induce relaxation, improve occasional stress, and mitigating psychological symptoms of menopause, announces results of a new in vivo study that shows that affron can help boost the body’s endogenous production of melatonin.

“Results of a previous clinical study showed that Pharmactive’s potent saffron extract significantly improves sleep quality, helps to support mood balance after awakenings, reduce sleep-onset latency, ease difficulties in falling asleep, and allow for more continuous and less-interrupted slumber,” said Alberto Espinel, Open Innovation & IP Director. “The new study clarifies the mechanism for affron’s positive effects on sleep, providing solid scientific support to the previous studies.”

Better sleep is as much about good sleep as it is about duration of sleep

-  Alberto Espinel, Open Innovation & IP Director, Pharmactive Biotech 

The placebo-controlled animal study was designed to assess of the effects of affron on melatonin synthesis and the Kynurenine Pathway. Melatonin is a hormone that is synthesised in the pineal gland from tryptophan (only a very minor part of the available tryptophan is used for melatonin synthesis), which is first converted into serotonin—the so-called “feel-good” hormone—and finally into melatonin. 

Tryptophan also can follow another pathway and be enzymatically transformed into several molecules on the kynurenine pathway. This unbalanced pathway is negatively involved in several biological processes.

The results of the new study indicate that affron inhibits the enzymes that allow this conversion from tryptophan to kynurenine metabolites, demonstrating the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of affron, while promoting the synthesis of enzymes responsible for transforming tryptophan into melatonin, resulting in a significative improvement of plasma melatonin levels.

In summary, the study shows unequivocally that affron has an effect on sleep quality because it stimulates endogenous melatonin production. Furthermore, it was observed throughout this process that the consumption of affron is safe and has no toxic effects on the body.

Lack of sleep has long been recognised by the US National Institutes of Health as a global crisis, a situation only exacerbated by the recent pandemic. A number of surveys suggest some two thirds of people report getting insufficient sleep. Insufficient Sleep is defined by The Sleep Foundation as “curtailed sleep that persists for three months or longer,” as well as “poor sleep that occurs because of sleep fragmentation or other disruptions.”

Results of a previous clinical study showed that Pharmactive’s potent saffron extract significantly improves sleep quality

- Alberto Espinel, Open Innovation & IP Director, Pharmactive Biotech 

Long-term sleep deficit (defined as fewer than seven hours per night)—which now affects around a third of adults—has been linked to a host of physical, cognitive, and emotional diseases and dysfunctions that range from increased risks of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes to heightened levels of occasional stress and low mood. 

Twice as many persons are taking daily sleep aids as there were in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and in the past five years, melatonin has been increasingly favored by consumers as an aid to better slumber. Used as directed, melatonin is a safe and effective, natural supplement that can help users fall asleep more quickly and to get longer, and better quality, sleep.

However, a study published last spring in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that nearly nine in 10 melatonin supplements were mislabelled, having inaccurately presented amounts of the hormone and some having none whatsoever.

The primary conclusion of the new in vivo study is that, with affron, the body can more efficiently generate its own melatonin without the need for melatonin supplements.

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This is positive because it benefits population groups that do not metabolise exogen melatonin properly, such as the elderly. Yet affron also is safe and effective for use by teenagers, making it a perfect ally for treating occasional sleeplessness in this often sleep-deprived age group. Moreover, no negative effects such as headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, etc. were observed.

“Better sleep is as much about good sleep as it is about duration of sleep,” said Espinel. “Supported by previous studies on affron's ability to act as a natural sleeping agent, this latest study demonstrates that it is actively involved in aiding the body’s natural capacity to fall asleep and stay asleep.”

Pharmactive works with selected saffron farmers, supporting local and sustainable agriculture to ensure that the stigmas of Crocus sativus L. used are always of the highest quality. Their craft has been part of their cultural heritage for centuries and consists of traditional methods that bring unique characteristics to the final product. The fresh stigmas are dried on-site, immediately after harvesting, to ensure maximum stability of the active ingredients.

Affron is naturally extracted from saffron via a proprietary extraction process AFF ON Cool-Tech, using zero chemicals, with less energy and less industrial processing, using only water.

Thanks to the exhaustive quality controls carried out it is possible to certify that the saffron used for the production of affron is 100% Crocus sativus L. It is water-soluble and versatile across multiple applications at a recommended daily amount of 28mg for improving mood and occasional stress, and 14mg one hour before bedtime to improve sleep quality.

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