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Saffron might slow age-related macular degeneration

saffron stands

Q: You had a letter from a person who was taking saffron for age-related macular degeneration. Since I have AMD, I am willing to try anything that might alleviate symptoms.

I began taking the spice with no real idea of how much I should use. At my next eye exam, there was definitely improvement, something my eye doctor said he had never seen. This has continued through three subsequent exams. In fact, the AMD has almost completely disappeared in one eye.

I have also been taking specific eye vitamins (AREDS) along with the saffron, but I had been taking them with no improvement prior to taking saffron. Why didn’t you mention saffron to the reader a few weeks ago who was looking for something to keep her age-related macular degeneration from getting worse?

Not everyone may benefit as I have from this spice, but every AMD sufferer should consider it. It’s relatively inexpensive. Actually, I would have paid thousands for the results I’ve received. Thank you so very much for the information you provided that has helped me see improvement in slowing my AMD.

A: What a great story! Since the initial column you read two years ago, scientists have done further research on saffron for protecting the retina and helping macular degeneration. Italian researchers found that AMD patients taking 20 mg/day of saffron had no deterioration of vision over more than two years, while those taking the recommended nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin did (Antioxidants, July 17, 2019).

A separate randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial in Australia tested saffron at 20 mg/day against placebo in 100 people with age-related macular degeneration (Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, January 2019). The investigators concluded “Saffron supplementation modestly improved visual function in participants with AMD, including those using AREDS supplements. Given the chronic nature of AMD, longer-term supplementation may produce greater benefits.” Those on saffron had no more side effects than those on placebo.

We agree that AMD patients should discuss saffron supplements with their ophthalmologists. Taking saffron together with AREDS vitamins seems to provide additional benefit.

Q: After a recent orthopedic surgery, I experienced nausea as an aftereffect of anesthesia. The anti-nausea meds did nothing, but a neighbor brought me ginger root. She instructed me to chop it, put it in a cup of water and heat it in the microwave. This ginger tea had an almost immediate effect and relieved my nausea for good. I was amazed.

A: Thank you for sharing your experience with ginger. Post-operative nausea is indeed a common reaction to anesthesia. In one study, clinical researchers compared the effects of ginger with those of a sedative, dexmedetomidine (Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, online, Oct. 1, 2019). They found that both treatments eased nausea and vomiting, but ginger was more effective.

You can learn more about ginger and other strategies for alleviating stomach upset in our eGuide to Digestive Disorders. It can be found in the Health eGuides section of

Another intriguing approach to post-operative nausea is sniffing rubbing alcohol. A randomized trial found that when post-op patients sniffed 70% isopropyl alcohol from soaked cotton every half-hour, they reported significantly less nausea and vomiting (Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, December 2018).

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers.

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