There are energy drinks to keep you awake, and now there are relaxation drinks to help you relax. It seems like there’s a beverage for almost any mood these days. Relaxation beverages have only recently made their mark in the U.S. market after first making their debut in Japan six years ago. Since then, relaxation drinks have rapidly taken off as people look for alcohol-free ways to unwind after a challenging day. But can you believe the claims? Do relaxation drinks really help you relax – and are they safe?
Beverages to Help You Relax: What’s In Them?
Relaxation drinks contain a combination of amino acids including l-threonine, l-theanine, 5-HTP and GABA. GABA, an amino acid that’s also a brain neurotransmitter, helps to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety and bring on sleep. 5-HTP is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, a brain chemical that’s involved in mood. Some relaxation drinks also contains melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The manufacturers of these drinks also add vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium.
L-theanine is an amino acid found in modest amounts in high-quality green tea. Experts believe the reason people are less likely to get “hyped up” by the caffeine in green tea is due to the moderating effects of theanine, which promotes relaxation. Some relaxation beverages also contain valerian root, an herb that hasn’t been well-studied and one that can interact with some medications.
Will Relaxation Drinks Help You Relax?
The ingredients in relaxation beverages can conceivably help you relax. The question is whether there are enough of these key ingredients in relaxation drinks to have a real effect. There’s also the question of whether the body can absorb and assimilate them properly from these beverages. There hasn’t been a lot of research looking at these drinks since they’re a relatively recent addition to the beverage scene.
Are Relaxation Drinks Safe?
The amino acids these drinks contain are likely safe for the average person, but the melatonin in these beverages raises concerns. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal gland normally produces more melatonin at night when it’s dark outside and there’s no light present. It shuts down melatonin production during the day when a person needs to be awake and alert. Drinking drinks containing melatonin during the day can throw off a person’s sleep-wake cycle and make it more difficult to sleep at night – as well as have other adverse effects.
The amino acids in relaxation drinks are classified by the FDA as “generally considered to be safe”, but the FDA doesn’t closely regulate relaxation drinks so you don’t know what you’re getting when you pop open a bottle of these relaxation tonics.
Are Relaxation Beverages Really Effective?
These drinks contain ingredients that can theoretically reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, but do they contain enough to have an effect – and can the body absorb them? There are also concerns about the harmful effects of drinking beverages containing melatonin during the day – and the potential for some herbal additives such as valerian root to interact with medications. If you’re pregnant or on medications, don’t drink these drinks – and don’t give them to children. Talk to your doctor before making relaxation beverages a part of your diet.
The bottom line? There are better ways to relax – like listening to classical or new age music that doesn’t have side-effects. Give it a try before reaching for a relaxation beverage.
Beverage Daily website. “Relaxation Drinks Continue on Upward Growth Path”