Affron saffron demonstrated in study to promote better athletic performance

Pharmactive Biotech Products has moved into the sports nutrition sector following results of the latest research on affron, its natural saffron ingredient1. The clinical study has demonstrated two important findings: Affron improved enjoyment in sport active adults, and, in males, it can help increase the resilience to stress and anxiety by increasing the cardiac parasympathetic response that regulates post-exercise heart rate.

“While most consumers agree exercise and physical activity are vital, especially after so many have spent too much of the past three years in lockdown, for most people routine exercise three times a week is hard, and often is boring,” explained Jean-Marie Raymond, CEO of Pharmactive. “But if it’s possible to better enjoy the activity, it can create positive feedback that encourages doing more and maintaining a routine much longer.”

Although previous research demonstrated the pure, clean-label saffron ingredient can help promote better sleep and boost recovery for athletes, as results of a new clinical study in Australia revealed that affron supplementation in recreationally active males was associated with increases in self-reported exercise enjoyment and positive heart rate variability (HRV).

The six-week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included healthy, nonprofessional participants, aged 18-65 years, who performed moderate-to-intense aerobic exercise more than three times per week. Activities included such exercises as cycling, running, swimming, tennis, aerobics, and/or boxing. Study subjects were chosen using strict exclusion criteria. Sixty-two volunteers participated in the study, and 59 completed it. Each subject took 14mg of affron, two times per day.

The researchers provided participants a standard sport wearable to measure HRV, allowing the subjects to engage with their watch and see results daily and in real time. At the end of the trial, the male participants taking affron demonstrated statistically significant changes compared to the placebo group in HRV, measured during bedtime. The HRV is an indicator of recovery as previously revealed in studies on adults with occasional stress and/or burnout, who exhibit decreased HRV. 

“We decided to use a sports watch in the study model during sleep-time as it offers a very easy to use means measuring heart rate. Using the sports watch, consumers can see for themselves the impact of affron in real time and in the long term,” noted Raymond. To measure how much the volunteers enjoyed their workouts, the research team employed the physical activity enjoyment scale (PAES). Results revealed a statistically significant increase in PAES score over time in the affron group, with no such increase in the placebo group. This suggests an improvement in enjoyment and mood with daily intake of affron.

“Affron’s positive effect on heart rate and work out enjoyment could be attributed to various physiological mechanisms at play,” added Alberto Espinel, head of strategic R&D in active and functional natural ingredients for Pharmactive. “Previous animal studies have endorsed it role in reducing stress hormones such as cortisol while raising the ‘happy hormones’ serotonin and dopamine. The botanical also demonstrated a relaxant effect on smooth muscles and blood vessels. Studies suggest it may even positively interact with the gut flora, which affects the nervous system. Moreover saffron is touted as a potent anti-oxidant anti-inflammatory.”

Pharmactive’s affron is naturally extracted from saffron with full control by the company from farm to shelf. It is water-soluble and versatile across multiple applications, including supplements, powders, and shots. The recommended amount of affron is 28mg per day, either enjoyed in a single dose, or split into two 14mg doses per day.