In light of so much controversy about drugs for depression and anxiety, consumers are increasingly looking for natural, safe alternatives. And there are plenty to choose from. In our Science Review, we cover the research behind the health benefits of four common ones — St John's wort, kava, ginkgo and ginseng. Another mood ingredient, the amino acid L-theanine, is showing great promise in the functional-drinks market, particularly as a sophisticated alternative to caffeine. This is a welcome development, considering the persistent rumblings about the possible regulation of caffeine.
The science behind herbs increasingly makes good business sense, as our Business Strategies feature demonstrates. Scientists are confirming new uses for old plants, as well as previously undiscovered qualities. For example, licorice root has been found to have potential for heart-health applications and diabetes, and hops to possess anti-inflammatory properties. And a new ingredient from rhubarb could challenge red clover, black cohosh and dong quai for women's health. This could be the beginning of an herbal renaissance. But rising prices, greater demand and quality control will all affect the market going forward, so it will be interesting to see how this category will develop.
Speaking of the business of botanicals, the business of protein is looking to get even better in the coming year. This is largely thanks to research conducted in the last year that is opening up possibilities for new product development with dairy fractions such as lactalbumin, as well as old standby soy, and thecousin of the world's leading botanical cash crop, hemp.
Bringing together all these different ingredients, we examine the delivery systems available to offer functional ingredients in the most accessible formats (Formulations). Dan Murray assesses the complete range, from standard tablets to liquid-filled capsules and nanotech.
Finally, on a personal note, this is my last column as editorial director of Functional Ingredients. I have been at the helm of Fi, and before that Functional Foods & Nutraceuticals since New Hope first acquired the magazine in 2001. Since 1998, I worked on New Hope's European conferences and trade shows. On Fi, my goal was always to offer you a high-quality publication with a broad international outlook — and something a bit different from the other publications.
A decade is a long time in the publishing world, so it's time to move on. I would like to thank all the advertisers who have loyally supported us over all these years and, of course, you the reader — without whom we wouldn't be here. I will be staying in the industry, and look forward to seeing many of you again in the future.