The relaxation drink industry has been growing in the US over the past few years. They contain ingredients that help you fall asleep, relax and relieve stress. Drinks are sold in supermarkets and you do not need a prescription or a doctor’s permission to buy them.
According to Bloomberg , Japan is one of the innovation leaders at the end of 2015. In the sum of all categories (research, education, IT, patents), it is second only to South Korea. South Korean and Japanese companies often appear in the media as they create crazy products and advertise them in equally crazy ways.
In 2005, one of these products was relaxing drinks, presented as a concept at the Japanese food exhibition. The active ingredient in the product was gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which calms the human nervous system. If Red Bull and Burn stimulate and tone the nervous system due to caffeine and taurine, while relaxing drinks had the opposite effect.
The Japanese concept was noticed and two years later a small group of Hawaiian kitesurfers introduced the first commercial product. In addition to GABA, an extract from the roots of kava and valerian was added to it – both plants are rich in L – theanine and L-threonine, which have a sedative effect.
Later, the drink was named Lanilai and began to be positioned as “100% natural Hawaiian relaxation drink.” In Hawaiian, the word lani means “sky” or “paradise” and lai means calm weather after a thunderstorm. The name can be translated as “heavenly calm.”
By 2010, when other players entered the market, the turnover of the relaxation drinks industry in the United States was already estimated at $ 23 million. Consumers used drinks as a mild form of sleeping pills and an antidepressant. They were often drunk before going to bed or after a hard day’s work. Some doctors began to prescribe them for mild forms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder instead of Adderall .
A year later, the industry’s turnover increased to $32 million, and Just became the most famous brands. Chill , Neuro Bliss , Marley’s Mellow Mood , Mary Jane’s relaxing Soda and Slow Cow . Relaxation drinks were a logical evolution of the caffeine- and energy-obsessed food industry, but by 2011 they accounted for only 0.3% of all carbonated drinks sold in the US.
If you want to relax, you drink alcohol. But you won’t stink of vodka all day long, will you? I wanted to make a product that would help you relax, but without the side effects like slurred tongue, fumes, and hangovers.
Matt Moody, founder of Mary Jane’s relaxing soda
Unlike energy drinks, the effect of “relax drinks” is not so easy to describe. Even the brands themselves tell different stories to the consumer. For example, neuro Sleep is positioned as a means of quality sleep and high productivity the next day, a drink with the intimidating name Koma Unwind – “relaxes a tense mind”, and the most famous Just Chill – “Gives you the effect of relaxation without drowsiness.”
The composition of drinks is about the same. The key difference comes down, perhaps, only to the amount of sugar – some manufacturers use a sweetener to reduce calories.
Judging by customer reviews, the drinks work. Senior Editor at Huffington Post Katie Arnold- Ratliff describes how she felt after Just Chill : “I drank a can of Just Chill at 3 p.m. when it seemed to me that I could no longer work and wanted to rest. But instead of falling asleep, my body focused on work and after 40 minutes I noticed that I was working without being distracted by anything around. She also added that Just Chill is “very palatable”. Reviews of other drinks talk about achieving better and deeper sleep.
But there are no scientific studies proving the effect of relaxing drinks on the body. Kava root extract and valerian are known to be really soothing. An extract from chamomile – the plant is often used in the composition – also works.
Dr. Tasnim Bata believes that the drinks do work. According to her, all active ingredients (valerian root, L – theanine , GABA, 5-HTP and melatonin) have long been used as sedatives and relaxants.
Dr. Bata advises to follow a few rules when choosing a relaxing drink: pay attention to the presence of the composition on the label and the number of servings in the jar. She also advises against drinking them while driving and mixing products from different brands.
However, there is a reason to find another way to relax – inconsistencies in the composition. For example, the amino acid 5-HTP, which is added to all drinks, breaks down in liquid and loses its usefulness. The amount of L -theanine required for a relaxing effect is approximately 200 milligrams, and in drinks its content is no more than 0.7 milligrams. But melatonin, on the contrary, is much more. The standard dosage is 1-3 milligrams, but most drinks contain 3-5 milligrams.
The problem is that the effect of melatonin on the body is quite controversial. This paper says that taking melatonin helps to sleep, here that it helps to treat multiple sclerosis, and here it is called “the most powerful weapon against breast cancer.”
Matthew MD Edlund asked colleagues what they thought about the use of melatonin in the food industry. Many were surprised, since its effect depends on many factors – the amount of the hormone, the time of the day, and the body of a particular person – and adding it to a food product is at least incorrect.
Scientists from the University of Oregon have proven that when a certain dose of melatonin is exceeded, on the contrary, it has an invigorating effect and even causes headaches. In this regard, doctors believe that legislation should regulate the industry of relaxing drinks.
Max Baumann , founder of Just Chill – The hype surrounding the legality of relaxing drinks seems far-fetched. At least in the case of his product. Baumann created Just Chill in 2010, but the idea came a year earlier when he was about to go to Australia.
“Looking forward to an incredible adventure, Max drove to the Los Angeles airport. On the way, he met angry people who honked and shouted at each other, annoying themselves and others. What if there was a drink that helped you relax and focus? — tell the story of the creation of Just Chill on the company’s website.
“I was obsessed with the idea of creating such a drink. I spent hundreds of hours researching Google comparing herbs, amino acids and minerals that have a relaxing effect,” Baumann says in an interview with Inc. To select the final version, the co-founders tried hundreds of samples. Max turned to Power Brands is a company that produces carbonated drinks. He also knew he couldn’t build a product on his own, so he teamed up with three former bandmates to create the Just brand. Chill . The co-founders persuaded friends and relatives to invest $200,000 in the project.
Among similar products Just Chill is one of the most popular. Not because the company makes the best drink – the merit, first of all, is in marketing. Baumann and his colleagues do not create a drink, but an entire brand that teaches people to relax, focus and live without aggression. Social networks Just Chill reposts articles about meditation, productivity and relaxation practices. The most frequently mentioned services and articles are Headspace , a company that provides online meditation lessons.
According to Baumann , the relaxation drink industry will definitely continue to grow over the next five to ten years. The reason for this, he calls a large number of people who have problems with sleep – only in the United States there are more than 70 million of them. Baumann ‘s words are confirmed by facts. Since 2010, the turnover of the industry has been growing by about 30-50% annually. By 2014, it reached $153 million. A 12% annual growth is expected over the next five years.
Founder of the food and food blog Supermarket Guru Phil Lampert calls the future of these companies “bright and very relaxing.” He recalls a 2007 deal when Coca-Cola acquired VitaminWater for $4.2 billion in cash. The company produced drinks with a high content of salts, vitamins and minerals. Despite the fact that more than 450 types of relaxing drinks are available to the consumer, this market is still not saturated and is open to new players.
According to an IBISWorld report, Just ‘s share Chill accounts for 30% of the relaxing drinks market. It is followed by Marley with a 22% share. Beverage Company , which makes herbal tinctures and teas. Dream closes the top three products . Of these, 12% is the production of melatonin-rich drinks for sleep and stress relief.
But neither just Chill , no Marley Beverage Company , nor other major players, have commented on the fact that the use of their drinks sometimes feels like an addiction. For example, Julie Duffy from New Jersey drinks Neuro Sleep every night in order to fall asleep. The lack of visible side effects and relative cheapness – most drinks cost no more than $ 2 per can – contribute to this. “And they are delicious, like those orange drinks from McDonald’s ,” Duffy justifies .