Sleep studies suggest that somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of adults struggle with insomnia and that sleeplessness may cost the US workforce north of $63 billion a year in lost productivity. Add it up and Americans know that things aren’t just exactly right. This is reflected in sales of mood support supplements, which have spiked 17 percent in the past year.
Combine this state of affairs with Americans’ notoriously cheery dispositions and you have given rise to the newest word in the English language: Armaggenoptomist—defined as a person who knows it’s all going to hell but still thinks everything is going to turn out okay.
Here's what three industry experts think about the category and its growth.
Fi: What can functional ingredients offer consumers to combat sleeplessness and stress?
Randy Kreienbrink, Director of Marketing, BI Nutraceuticals
Functional ingredients offer consumers a natural approach to combating sleeplessness and stress. Each ingredient works in its own unique way to relieve anxiety and insomnia and some work as complements for greater effects. In addition, functional ingredients give the consumer an option for their mode of intake. Some may prefer something quick like a dietary supplement while some may prefer a simple cup of tea. As the largest supplier of botanicals in the US, BI offers numerous ingredients that combat sleeplessness and stress such as chamomile, hops, passion flower, valerian, ashwagandha, eleuthero root, gotu kola, rhodiola, and many more.
David Konn, Managing Director for North America, Ilwha Co., Ltd.
There are many products being made available to respond to this need. Ginseng is an ideal herb to address stress and sleep issues. However methods of growth and processing have created a broad range of ginseng products many of which provide only a fraction of ginseng's potential.
Ginseng is considered the master adaptogen in use as the central herb for healing and wellness for over 2,000 years. It can play a central role in addressing problems with sleep and stress. The problem is ginseng products found in the market have a broad range of low to high efficacy as a result of methods of processing, blending and fractionalization. Most of the science in ginseng has focused only on the active ingredient ginsenosides and reducing costs. However the power and potential of ginseng to address stress problems with high efficacy requires a combination of right harvest and whole root low heat processing.
Fi: Is this category growing currently? What do you project for the coming year?
RK: An alarming number of individuals are currently affected by insomnia and stress, and as a busier lifestyle becomes the norm for Americans, this segment can only grow. It is especially going to grow in the beverage industry. In 2011, the US functional food market was worth $41.1 billion—functional beverages accounted for 62 percent of that. Although it was mainly due to energy beverages, consumers are now familiar with the concept of beverages with specific benefits. The popularity of energy beverages will have a spillover effect on other functional beverages including its opposite, the relaxation beverage.
Kartikeya Baldwa, Director, Ixoreal Biomed
KSM-66 Ashwagandha has shown significant promise for cognitive function and mood. Ashwagandha has been utilized for centuries as a flagship herb in ancient Ayurvedic medicine where it is a known adaptogen, providing balance for the mind and body. Scientific studies with KSM-66 have demonstrated that KSM-66 contributes to a normalizing effect in the body helping it to adapt to stress, anxiety and aging. When you combine these scientifically-supported benefits with the increased consumer desire for natural, whole herb products, KSM-66 offers an ideal ingredient for nutritional product manufacturers seeking to formulate cognitive health supplements or functional foods and beverages.
DK: Stress and sleep problems form a constantly growing category. The term "adrenal stress disorder" or "adrenal fatigue" is being spoken about by many health care professionals as a problem of epidemic proportion. Sleep problems are related to stress and there are many health care professionals who consider stress and the need for efficacious stress management to be the core factor in providing a path of wellness for their patients. I interviewed an integrative clinic in California after the NBJ Summit. The clinic has 5 doctors and they had been doing an analysis on adrenal stress with their patients. They tested 3,800 patients for adrenal function. The shocking result was that only 4 patients showed normal healthy adrenals, not requiring treatment and support.
For Ilhwa we see a tremendous growth in the coming year. There were two factors overlooked in ginseng. The first was how to maximize its potential by right harvest, whole root, low-heat processing. The second was absorption. Many people have not been able to get full absorption of some ginsenosides. Ilhwa has addressed both factors and the response to our products has been tremendous. Winning Best Botanical 2012 [2012 Functional Ingredients Editor’s Choice Award] for our enzyme-fermented GinST 15 high absorption Ginseng and two patents pending has put us in a great position to provide solutions for this market need. We have received a lot of interest from companies wanting to formulate with GinST 15 and also companies looking to co develop GinST 15 with other ingredients.
Fi: What is the biggest threat to growth for this category?
RK: The biggest threat for this category is overhyping the products and making claims that cannot be substantiated. One false product can ruin it for all. Manufacturers need to be aware of the ingredients they include in their products and the amount they include; that is the key to success whether for the dietary supplement industry or food and beverage industry.
DK: There are two main threats. The first is current and ongoing. There is confusion and misunderstanding about ginseng due to wide variance in ginseng quality sold in the last 30 years. The second is more in the future. The adrenal stress problem is so large a pharmaceutical company may try to create specific disease conditions that the FDA would acknowledge so the symptoms could be treated only by a registered drug. This would make it more difficult to properly communicate with the market.
Condition specific directory: Sleep & stress
Stress can cause the body to lose its stores of vitamin C from the adrenal glands. Before grabbing that orange, bell peppers offer an alternative. Bell peppers contain approximately double the amount of vitamin C than oranges, in addition to having vitamin E and various carotenoids.
Embria Health Sciences
Ixoreal Biomed Private Ltd.
Serenzo, a citrus ingredient
Sensoril is a patented, multifunctional standardized extract of the Ayurvedic adaptogen ashwagandha, which is clinically proven to help reduce stress while boosting mental cognition and energy.
Pharmachem Laboratories Inc.
Lactium milk protein hydrolysate
Lactium is a milk protein hydrolysate containing a bioactive peptide with anti-stress properties. In total, five studies were conducted on 190 healthy subjects, which confirmed the anti-stress efficacy of Lactium. A recent study showed Lactium, at a dose of 167 mg per day, was particularly efficient for subjects who demonstrated the highest initial intensity of symptoms. Lactium is a patented, GRAS, NDI-approved ingredient, ideal for functional foods and beverages.