Saffron may save eyesight


Q. I was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration in 2014 and immediately read up on what I could do to prevent blindness. In addition to taking AREDS 2, I found that there is a supplement that can reduce, prevent and even improve this condition.

The supplement is saffron. Clinical studies have shown that it is anti-inflammatory and helpful for macular degeneration.

I started taking saffron soon after diagnosis, and in six months my eyesight improved. It has been stable since.

I order mine from New Zealand. Some eye vitamin supplements also have been adding saffron to the formula because of this research.

A. Your story intrigued us because we weren’t aware that saffron is being used to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This condition leads to a loss of sharp vision in the center of the retina (the macula). As a result, people find it hard to focus on the details of items in front of them – faces, signs or pages in a book.

Researchers have been investigating the antioxidant spice saffron for its ability to protect the retina. So far, the clinical trials have been promising but small (Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, July 18, 2012; Journal of Translational Medicine, Sept. 25, 2013; Medical Hypothesis, Discovery & Innovation Ophthalmology Journal, Spring 2016).

These studies demonstrate that saffron as a supplement can stabilize the retina for up to six months in people with early-stage AMD. We’d love to see larger, well-designed studies on this interesting supplement.

Q. As a pharmacist in New England, I had a customer who was an elderly physician. He overheard me talking with a client about her arthritis. He interjected politely that none of his patients are bothered with arthritis because they take a kitchen remedy of apple cider vinegar and honey.

I told my mother about this because she suffered with arthritic pain. She mixed up a potion of apple cider vinegar and honey and started taking it. Within three days, the pain went away. This works, but it does have a peculiar odor.

A. Apple cider vinegar and honey has long been a favorite New England home remedy. Dr. D.C. Jarvis wrote about it in his best-selling book, “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health.” He recommended a daily drink of 8 ounces of water with 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and 2 teaspoons of honey mixed into it. Dr. Jarvis didn’t take credit for the remedy, though. He said he had learned it from his patients.

Q. I’ve heard that rosemary oil is good for treating acne on the scalp. Is this true? I need an alternative to antibiotics.

A. Rosemary extract has been shown to possess both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity. In particular, it can inhibit the inflammation caused by the bacteria that cause acne (Journal of Medicinal Food, April 2013).

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