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An open label, randomized, fixed-dose, crossover study comparing efficacy and safety of sildenafil citrate and saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.) for treating erectile dysfunction in men naïve to treatment


Saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.) have been perceived by the public as a strong aphrodisiac herbal product. However, studies addressing the potential beneficial effects of saffron on erectile function (EF) in men with ED are lacking. Our aim was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of saffron administration on EF in men with ED. After a 4-week baseline assessment, 346 men with ED (mean age 46.6±8.4 years) were randomized to receive on-demand sildenafil for 12 weeks followed by 30 mg saffron twice daily for another 12 weeks or vice versa, separated by a 2-week washout period. To determine the type of ED, penile color duplex Doppler ultrasonography before and after intracavernosal injection with 20 μg prostaglandin E1, pudendal nerve conduction tests and impaired sensory-evoked potential studies were performed. Subjects were assessed with an International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF) questionnaire, Sexual Encounter Profile (SEP) diary questions, patient and partner versions of the Erectile Dysfunction Inventory of Treatment Satisfaction (EDITS) questionnaire and the Global Efficacy Question (GEQ) ‘Has the medication you have been taking improved your erections?’ No significant improvements were observed with regard to the IIEF sexual function domains, SEP questions and EDITS scores with saffron administration. The mean changes from baseline values in IIEF-EF domain were +87.6% and +9.8% in sildenafil and placebo groups, respectively (P=0.08). We did not observe any improvement in 15 individual IIEF questions in patients while taking saffron. Treatment satisfaction as assessed by partner versions of EDITS was found to be very low in saffron patients (72.4 vs 25.4, P=0.001). Mean per patient ‘yes’ responses to GEQ was 91.2 and 4.2% for sildenafil and saffron, respectively (P=0.0001). These findings do not support a beneficial effect of saffron administration in men with ED.

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Safarinejad, M., Shafiei, N. & Safarinejad, S. An open label, randomized, fixed-dose, crossover study comparing efficacy and safety of sildenafil citrate and saffron (Crocus sativus Linn.) for treating erectile dysfunction in men naïve to treatment. Int J Impot Res 22, 240–250 (2010).

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  • sildenafil
  • ED
  • treatment
  • sildenafil citrate
  • saffron
  • C. sativus
  • aphrodisiac

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