Keep Calm and Saffron On

Did you know it’s National Mental Health Awareness Month? In recognition, we wanted to highlight saffron, an herb that’s quickly growing in popularity for mental and emotional support.*

We invited Alberto Espinel, PhD, to join us in a Q&A on saffron. Dr. Espinel is Head of R&D at Pharmactive, the makers of the most clinically studied, trusted saffron raw material, Affron® saffron.

Q: How does Affron® saffron from Pharmactive compare to other saffron products on the market?

A: Here are the key differentiation points:

  • Most clinically studied branded saffron ingredient worldwide: seven human clinical studies 1–6 and unique pharmacokinetics study.7
  • Trusted source of the raw material: Affron saffron is homegrown in our private fields in Spain. Our company oversees the entire supply channel. We work closely with our farmers and have set in place a robust quality control system.
  • Guaranteed high quantity and stability of bioactive compounds: Affron is standardized, by HPLC to contain >3.5% Lepticrosalides®: the unique combination and synergic effect of crocins, crocetins, safranal and picrocrocins, the bioactive compounds responsible for its cognitive effects.*
  • Natural and patented extraction process: Affron is manufactured using a unique patented AFF ON Cool-Tech® actives-saver extraction procedure. This optimizes the preservation and concentration of the key active ingredients, with minimal industrial processing, no chemicals, and low energy use (100% water extraction).
  • Low suggested usage: Just 28 mg per day provides powerful mood and relaxation support.*
  • Most awarded saffron extract ingredient worldwide: Affron received six international awards (NutraIngredients, NIE, Frost & Sullivan, and Fi Awards).


Q: Affron saffron has one of the lowest suggested usages on the market (28 mg/day) – could you speak to this?

A: Affron exhibits one of the lowest suggested usage thresholds for saffron extracts on the market – just 28 mg per day – with proven bioavailability and rapid one-hour absorption as tested in the pharmacokinetics study.* Additionally, Affron is the only branded saffron extract with a dose-response clinical study, where 28 mg is established as the minimum daily amount.1

Q: How does Crocus sativus L. compare to other forms of saffron?

A: There are 85 known species of saffron in the world, but Crocus sativus L. stands out for its physical and biochemical properties.8 This plant has a long culinary, cosmetic (as a fragrance) dye, and health use history of promoting wellbeing in multiple ways, including cardiovascular, healthy aging, mood balancing, menstruation relief, and eye health, amongst others.*9

Interested in trying Affron® Saffron? You can find it at your local natural health store.

Dr. Alberto Espinel

Albreto Espinel, PhD. Biologist

Dr. Alberto Espinel was born and raised in Madrid. His professional career comprises more than two decades in academic and industrial positions in several well-reputed and competitive companies in the fields of feed, food, and nutraceuticals production. He directed a probiotic production plant and was appointed as Director of Research and Senior Strategic Manager at Calidad Pascual for 10 years before joining Pharmactive Biotech Products as Head of R&D.




(1) Kell, G., Rao, A., Beccaria, G., et al. (2017). affron® a novel saffron extract (Crocus sativus L.) improves mood in healthy adults over 4 weeks in a double-blind, parallel, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complementary therapies in medicine, 33, 58–64.

(2) Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Hood, S. D., et al. (2019). Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 33(11), 1415–1427.

(3) Lopresti, A. L., & Drummond, P. D. (2017). Journal of affective disorders, 207, 188–196.

(4) Lopresti, A. L., Drummond, P. D., Inarejos-García, A. M., et al. (2018). Journal of affective disorders, 232, 349–357. jad.2018.02.070

(5) Nishide, A., Fujita, T., Nagaregawa, Y., et al. (2018). Sleep enhancement by saffron extract in randomized control trial. Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 46(8), 1407-1415.

(6) Lopresti, A. L., Smith, S. J., Metse, A. P., et al. (2020). Effects of saffron on sleep quality in healthy adults with self-reported poor sleep: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 16(6), 937–947. https://

(7) Almodóvar, P., Briskey, D., Rao, A., et al. (2020). Bioaccessibility and Pharmacokinetics of a Commercial Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) Extract. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2020. https://

(8) Hagh Nazari, S., & Keifi, N. (2007). Saffron and various fraud manners in its production and trades. Acta Horticulturae , 739, 411–416.

(9) Handbook of herbs and spices (2 ed., Vol. 1, p. 469–498). (2012). Philadelphia, PA: Woodhead Publishing Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition.




Dr. Alberto Espinel