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Spice girls… saffron can banish blues in teenagers

THE remedy for depressed teenagers may just be a curry or a paella away.

Compounds extracted from saffron, an ingredient for both, can help relieve low moods in adults and can be as effective as Prozac and citalopram.

Now an Australian study has shown the spice could help treat depression in 12 to 16-year-olds, particularly girls. Psychologist Dr Adrian Lopresti, of Murdoch University, Perth, led the study of 80 children with low moods, irritability, stress and anxiety.

The symptoms affected their quality of life but were ‘not so severe they would lead to self harm’, he said.

Those given compounds in affron, derived from saffron, showed a 33 per cent improvement. Dr Lopresti said the ‘natural anti-inflammatories’ reduce stress hormones and protect brain cells.

Prof Hamish McAllister-Williams, from Newcastle University, said: ‘If saffron is as effective as drugs I would have no problem with people using it.’