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A 22-week, multicenter, randomized, double-blind controlled trial of Crocus sativus in the treatment of mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease

Rationale There is increasing evidence to suggest the possible efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) in the management of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Objective The purpose of the present investigation was to assess the efficacy of C. sativus in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate AD.

Methods Fifty-four Persian-speaking adults 55 years of age or older who were living in the community were eligible to participate in a 22-week, double-blind study of parallel groups of patients with AD. The main efficacy measures were the change in the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale—cognitive subscale and Clinical Dementia Rating Scale—Sums of Boxes scores compared with baseline. Adverse events (AEs) were systematically recorded. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a capsule saffron 30 mg/day (15 mg twice per day) or donepezil10 mg/day (5 mg twice per day).

Results Saffron at this dose was found to be effective similar to donepezil in the treatment of mild-to-moderate AD after 22 weeks. The frequency of AEs was similar between saffron extract and donepezil groups with the exception of vomiting, which occurred significantly more frequently in the donepezil group.

Conclusion This phase II study provides preliminary evidence of a possible therapeutic effect of saffron extract in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This trial is registered with the Iranian Clinical Trials Registry (IRCT138711051556N1).