What the Saffron Extract Appetite Suppressant Satiereal Study Really Says
One of the ways to fight obesity is through the development of appetite suppressants. Appetite suppressants such as the saffron extract Satiereal is claimed to put a stop to what is called “emotional eating.” Emotional eating is where under times of stress or low energy, individuals tend to snack on comfort foods, which in turn possibly increases the hormone serotonin that fires up the pleasure center in the brain. The saffron extract Satierial is believed to suppress appetite by turning up serotonin levels and thereby making individuals less likely to feel the need to snack in order to feel better.
While the claims on television do not identify a specific study, a search of relevant scientific literature has turned up one 2010 study that tests the effects of the saffron extract Satiereal against a placebo on a small group of mildly overweight women.
The Saffron Extract Study
The foundation of the saffron study is based on what the authors refer to as “disturbed dietary behaviors” that include compulsive, uncontrolled snacking. Snacking is significantly affected by mood swings related to stress and has been shown to manifest as a strong preference for high-sugar and high-fat snacks. Stress snacking or “emotional eating” occurs primarily in females and affects 2% to 5% of this population.
Previous studies have shown that satiety or a “feeling of fullness” can be achieved by eating fiber rich foods and thereby can result in weight loss. Unfortunately however, such measures are often temporary and necessitate the need for other measures to address appetite suppression.
Because uncontrolled snacking is associated with a depressed mood and/or feelings of stress and anxiety, the authors of the paper hypothesized that preventing uncontrolled snacking can be remedied through spices that have previously been shown to have anti-anxiety, mood enhancing properties. One such spice is Corcus sativus, more commonly known as saffron that has been used in traditional medicine for treating digestive, inflammatory and cerebral disorders. More recently, however, saffron has been shown to possess antidepressant properties.
To test their hypothesis, the researchers designed a study that assesses whether an extract called “Satiereal” isolated from the saffron plant can reduce snacking behavior and result in weight loss. The study was designed to look at two primary components: actual weight lost and snacking frequency per a daily log kept by each individual in the study.
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group study consisting of 61 healthy, mildly overweight women between the ages of 25 to 45, the researchers divided the participants into two randomized groups. Prior to the random division, at least 50 % of the women were identified as having some compulsive snacking behavior, but not suffering from complicating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa, excessive anxiety and/or depression or other mental disorders. The average weight of each woman was approximately 162 pounds.
Twice daily during an 8-week period, one group was given a Satiereal extract supplement and the other group an identical appearing placebo. Each dose of Satiereal was approximately 88 milligrams and had been isolated from the stigmas of the mature saffron flower (Crocus sativus L; Iridaceae).
All participants were instructed to keep a daily snacking log and made reporting visits every two weeks. During the visits the participants were weighed and measured and given questionnaires that rated feelings of hunger and satiety as well as their snacking behaviors. Blood and urine analyses were also made to ensure that dosage of the extract was not causing undue harm.
The Saffron Extract Study Results
At the end of the study period, 60 participants—31 receiving the extract, 29 receiving the placebo—successfully completed all tasks and their data were statistically analyzed. One participant from the placebo group exited the study prematurely and her data was not used in the analysis.
What the researchers found was that in a group by group comparison within the first two weeks of the study, the Satiereal group began to show statistically significant weight loss as a group in comparison to the placebo group. Furthermore, the weight loss trend for the Satiereal group continued throughout the remainder of the 8-week period. No adverse effects except for a few complaints of minor digestive disorders were reported.
The baseline snacking behavior of all the participants at the beginning of the study was approximately one snack per day. At the end of the 8-week study, the Satiereal group demonstrated statistically significant reduction in snacking beginning with week 4 of the study that continued throughout the study, whereas the placebo group showed only a one-time statistically significant reduction in snacking at week 6. By the end of the 8th week, the Satiereal group participants were snacking about half as much as they had at the beginning of the study.