Natural Health

A Spicy New Solution to Macular Degeneration

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Bone & Muscle Defense

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A Spicy New Solution to Macular Degeneration about Bone & Muscle Defense
Many people experience reduced eyesight as they get older. Problems with driving at night, blurry vision and losing the ability to enjoy reading a good book are often chalked up to old age.

Don’t be complacent. The culprit behind these symptoms could be macular degeneration. This condition threatens you with blindness, and it sneaks up on you slowly and stealthily.

But there’s an Indian spice that reduces and can even prevent this damage to your sight. And for once, I’m not talking about turmeric or its extract, curcumin. Few people know that saffron has medicinal value. I didn’t know it myself until a couple of years ago.

It could be a breakthrough for treatment of macular degeneration.

Mainstream medicine turns to injections, lasers or drugs to fight macular degeneration. Although these treatments may help some people, they also have negative side effects that vary from infections to damaging healthy eye tissue to bleeding from the eye.Saffron may be a safe, natural alternative. It comes from the red stigmas of the Crocus Sativus flower – the familiar, cheery blooms that are among the first flowers of spring, if you live in a northern or temperate climate. Saffron’s medicinal use dates back to ancient Greece.

The spice improves vision and makes the cells in the eyes stronger thanks to the antioxidant carotenoids crocin and crocetin.

What is Macular Degeneration?

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss among those age 50 and older. It causes damage to the macula, a small part of the eye needed for sharp, central vision, the kind that allows you to see objects straight ahead.1 As AMD progresses, a blurry or distorted area near the center of the field of vision appears. Over time, the blurring enlarges to the point where the patient develops blank spots in their eyesight. The loss of vision can interfere with simple everyday activities, such as the ability to drive, read, write, see faces, cook, or fix things around the house.

There are two forms of macular degeneration – dry and wet.2 The dry form is the most common type. This occurs when the light-sensitive cells of the macula slowly break down; it accounts for 90 percent of all vision-loss cases. The wet form makes up the other 10 percent, but is more serious because it almost always leads to a diagnosis of legal blindness. Wet AMD may cause faster vision loss.

It is possible to have both types in the same eye and either condition can appear first. But check out these studies on how saffron spice can help remedy this condition.

Saffron Improves Vision in AMD Patients

An Italian study published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science evaluated the effects of saffron in early AMD over a three-month period.3 The results indicate that supplementing with 20 mg of saffron significantly improved vision and decreased light sensitivity in all early AMD patients when compared to the placebo control group.

Says Benedetto Falsini, M.D., lead investigator, “These results provide important clues that nutritional carotenoids may affect AMD in novel and unexpected ways, possibly beyond their antioxidant properties.”

In a follow-up study performed in Rome, Italy, researchers assessed whether the benefits from saffron supplementation are reproduceable over a longer period of time. They recruited twenty-nine patients with an average age of 69 years and bilateral early AMD.4 Over a 15-month period, all who received the saffron supplement reported a noticeable improvement in their quality of vision as well as their quality of life.

Marco Piccardi, principle researcher, stated, “While further studies are needed to define saffron supplementation’s beneficial limits, the present approach is promising for a long-term treatment of early retinal dysfunction associated with AMD.”

Risk Factors For Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A major risk factor for AMD is age. Although this disease most likely occurs after the age of 60, it can begin earlier. Other risk factors include:5
  • Smoking – research shows it doubles the risk of AMD.
  • Race – AMD is more common among Caucasians than African-Americans or Hispanics/Latinos.
  • Family history and genetics – those with a family history of AMD are at a higher risk. So far, researchers have identified nearly 20 genes that can affect the risk of developing AMD. However, many more genetic risk factors are suspected.
Some lifestyle choices may make a difference in reducing your risk of AMD or slowing its progression, such as:6
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, fruits and fish.
  • Use sunglasses or hats to protect your eyes from overexposure to sunlight.

How to Get Saffron Into Your Diet

There are two options for reaping the benefits of saffron in your daily diet; both are available online and in health food stores.

First, you can cook with it. It’s sold in small bundles of long, red-orange strands and adds intense yellow coloring and flavoring to dishes. Just make sure it’s high quality and authentic (not dyed) when buying it in this form.

However, I would venture it’s not practical for most people to add saffron to food very often. It’s expensive, and it has a strong taste, so normally you don’t use much of it in the few recipes that call for saffron.

The more convenient option is to take a saffron extract supplement. I buy mine from Life Extension, a reliable brand.

Saffron appears to be safe when taken at normal doses.7
  1. Facts about age-related macular degeneration.
  2. Age-related macular degeneration: Facts & figures.
  3. Influence of saffron supplementation on retinal flicker sensitivity in early age-related macular degeneration.
  4. A longitudinal follow-up study of saffron supplementation in early age-related macular degeneration: Sustained benefits to central retinal function.
  5. Facts about age-related macular degeneration.
  6. Age-related macular degeneration: Facts & figures.
  7. Saffron.
Bone & Muscle Defense

Bone & Muscle Defense

Protects and supports muscle and bone health


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