Saffron, a spice made from the dried stigmas of crocus plants, is popular in Middle Eastern, Spanish and Indian cuisine. It's also been used to treat depression (and right other internal wrongs) in traditional Persian medicine and as a nerve-calming medicinal incense in Tibetan healing practices. There isn't a wealth of research to back up saffron's effect on mood, but a series of smaller experiments from Iran, which produces most of the world's saffron, showed promising results: Capsules of 30 mg of saffron were more effective at lifting depression than a placebo
and were also found to be as effective as Prozac
. Saffron can be expensive, and it will take about 15 strands (there are only 3 per flower) to make up a 30 mg dose, according to Duke's Handbook of Medicinal Herbs of the Bible
. But consider this your excuse to enjoy an extra helping of paella, the Mediterranean fish stew that owes its color and unique flavor to the spice.
Paella is usually served family-style, and sharing it with friends can distract you from your problems.