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Calming Support

Phase 2

Modern research and traditional ingredients help provide targeted natural products to gently ease consumers’ stress and anxiety.

Arecent study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association estimated that more than 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders in any given year.

Whether dealing with occasional stress, or needing to seek professional help for a more complex problem, there are natural products targeting consumers’ needs that may offer an alternative before heading to a pharmacist.

To that end, the state of the natural products market for stress and anxiety products is strong. Jerry Chou, CEO of California-based Sainthood Herbs, said the natural products that focus on stress relief are growing. “While everyone endures stress in their everyday life, more people are turning to natural alternatives to handle the increasing pressure of life.”

Marketing Director Karen Powell with California-based Source Naturals pointed out that more consumers are looking for natural, healthy solutions without the side effects associated with many pharmaceuticals. “The mega trend toward self-care is also fueling natural stress support product growth. Syndicated data indicates the market for stress products is growing at high single-digit to double-digit rates.”

However, the challenge, according to Matt Warnock, president of RidgeCrest Herbals in Utah, “is to address the many diverse manifestations of stress: fatigue, anxiety and related emotions, attention, cognitive and judgment impairment. There are so many complex layers to the problem.”

“Everyone experiences stress differently,” agreed Powell. “While there’s a plethora of natural stress products to choose from, many consumers are confused about which is the right one for them.”

Targeted Products & Ingredients

In response to this growing consumer need, Source Naturals launched a new Serene Science sub line, bringing together nine distinct stress support products. “Each provides unique benefits for the different kinds of stress that consumers experience,” Powell said. “Our new packaging calls out each product’s benefit, such as calm mind, peaceful body, positive mood or adrenal support, to make it easier for consumers to choose the personal stress solution that best matches their needs.”*

Each of the Serene Science products work with different aspects of the body’s natural calming mechanisms to provide unique stress support benefits. The line includes L-Theanine for focused relaxation, Magnesium Serene for a peaceful body, L-Tryptophan for a positive mood, Theanine Serene, Theanine Serene with Relora for a calm mind and body, Kava for occasional anxiety, and Holy Basil Extract for adrenal support.*

For manufacturers, it is becoming more common to use ingredients in stress-fighting formulas that have heavy research and clinical studies behind them, according to Warnock. At the same time, there are a variety of traditional ingredients from many different parts of the world that are gaining popularity and recognition. “We have had considerable success in drawing on both of these trends— building eclectic formulas that combine multiple approaches and ingredients at the same time.”

Warnock also noted that stress and anxiety are somewhat different, yet anxiety is one of the manifestations of stress. “While stress has identifiable roots, such as working too many hours, financial burdens or loss of a loved one, anxiety is the reaction to stress such as fear, worry and apprehension.”

In response, RidgeCrest Herbals created two separate but complementary formulas—Adrenal Fatigue Fighter and Anxiety Free. “While both Adrenal Fatigue Fighter and Anxiety Free can be used interchangeably when dealing with stress and anxiety, there are slight differences that help with each challenge,” he added.

Adrenal Fatigue Fighter contains a blend of nutrients and adaptogens specifically designed to support adrenal health and fight chronic fatigue. In addition, it contains B-complex nutrients, trace minerals, and herbs to counteract the effects of stress and support good adrenal health.

Anxiety Free uses calming herbs such a lemon balm, lavender and passionflower. Along with B vitamins, holy basil and ashwagandha, the product also contains L-theanine, as it is an amino acid that provides a sense of relaxation within 30 to 40 minutes through at least two different mechanisms: First, it stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation, Warnock explained. Secondly, L-theanine is also involved in the formation of GABA, which influences dopamine and serotonin.

“Both products contain a patented ashwagandha extract called Sensoril, which has been shown to increase resistance to fatigue, stress and tension; promote emotional well-being; counteract the negative effects of stress; promote mental clarity, concentration and alertness; and enhance energy levels for physical performance and endurance,” Warnock added. “They both include GABA, which is known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in increasing alpha (relaxing, reflecting) brain waves and decreasing beta (alert, working) brain waves. GABA also influences the levels of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. Human research shows that GABA not only induces relaxation, but also reduces anxiety.”

While it definitely is not a “trend,” lemon balm is an herb that has been spotlighted in the stress relief product category, according to Sainthood Herb’s Chou. “The calming ability of this herb has made the news as of late in this category and continues to receive kudos for its efficacy.”

Chou defined stress as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from demanding situations. “Stress is our body’s natural reaction to difficult tasks or daily situations,” he said. “Anxiety, on the other hand, is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or uncertain situational outcome. While both states of mind vastly differ, they both require similar herbs to relax, decloud the mind and calm the nerves.

Our Stress & Sleep product is beneficial in both situations. Aside from the name, it will not make you drowsy and is designed to ‘take the edge off’ of stress or occasional anxiety-causing sleeping problems.”

What sets Sainthood Herb apart is that its products are formulated to have a synergistic effect, Chou added. “We hand pick every herb is in our formulas, based on recipes that were passed down from generation to generation to make sure that everything in that product is working for you, not against you.”

In addition, Ken Whitman, president of Texas-based Natural Vitality, said both stress and anxiety are symptoms of low magnesium levels. “Magnesium And calcium need to be balanced at a cellular level. They are two sides of a coin,” he explained. “Calcium allows muscles to tense and magnesium allows them to relax. Natural Calm balances calcium intake and provides adequate magnesium for the more than 700 enzymatic reactions in the body that require magnesium.”

Natural Calm comes in a water-soluble powder form, which allows for variable dosage, and is highly bioavailable. “This is very important because the body’s needs for magnesium vary,” Whitman added, noting that more people are finding out about Natural Calm’s stressrelieving benefits. “In terms of trends, Natural Calm has appeared on numerous television programs and in Vogue, InStyle, People, OK, Redbook and Harper’s Bazaar. [This has led to] the product’s market growing 20 percent over the last year.”

Avoiding Side Effects

John Laskowski, president of New Jersey-based S&J Nature Products Inc., pointed out the downside of pharmaceutical drugs for stress and anxiety.

“The two most common treatments for anxiety disorders are serotonin specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) like Paroxetine, and benzodiazepines like Xanax,” he continued. “Several doctors have noted that both of these treatments, although effective for some users, have considerable drawbacks. The SSRI’s affect sexual performance, digestion and body weight, and can produce a strong rebound effect upon cessation of use. Most significant is the fact that they require up to six weeks to become effective, and in most users relieve only about a third of the anxiety. Benzodiazpines are rapidly effective for anxiety but also are rapidly habit-forming. Additionally, they also have the undesirable effect of impeding memory and causing sedation.”

With this recognition by consumers, Laskowski said his company Receives dozens of inquires daily regarding its Relax-V product, which is based on a traditional herbal remedy, valerian root, that has been used to treat anxiety for generations.

“Relax-V’s formulation is one that both ameliorates anxiety while calming the stomach and aids free breathing— two factors that contribute to well being and sense of calm,” he said. “Users have found Relax-V to be most useful when taken during unexpected stressful moments.”

Stress-Free Retailing

Retailer Stacey Gill, supplement sales associate at Mama Jeans Natural Market in Springfield, MO, said stress relief one of the top three categories in the store. Gaia’s Stress Response, Happy Camper and Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm are bestsellers. “Most customers buying Natural Calm are in their 30s and 40s, and a lot will buy products for their children. Everybody—from kids to seniors —seek it out.”

At Wenatchee Natural Foods in Wenatchee, WA, Store Manager Joey Thompson said product sales for stress relief see an uptick in the winter months. “It’s dark and grey in the Pacific Northwest,” he explained. One approach the staff recommends to customers is to take vitamin D supplements and visit a tanning bed. Ashwagandha, a supplement blend such as Irwin Naturals’ Sunny Mood and Natural Calm (which is suggested for several reasons, such as better sleep and to address restless leg syndrome), are also good sellers during the sad season in Washington State.

And manufacturers offer retailers a variety of sales support. For example, Source Naturals provides Serene Science displays for retailers that also include consumer-targeted education pieces. The company further supports retailer and consumer education through its Serene Science microsite (www.serencescience.com), where retailers and consumers alike can take a stress quiz, get easy-to-implement tips for managing everyday stress and learn more about the science of healthy stress reduction, said Powell.

RidgeCrest Herbals also provides many resources for supporting retailers, including brochures, short training videos, phone trainings and, most importantly, samples of the products. “Most individuals see results from our sample packs, which offer them a twoto three-day supply of products like Adrenal Fatigue Fighter and Anxiety Free,” said Warnock. “Depending on The area, we also have field guides that do in-store live demos.”

S&J Nature Products’ Laskowski said the company experiences a higher sell through rate when product is placed at the point of sale as opposed to the aisle shelf. In addition, the company regularly arranges in-store brand awareness demonstration sessions for Relax-V resulting increased sales long after the demonstration.

Staying Positive

Warnock pointed out that multifaceted problems often require multifaceted solutions, and usually require lifestyle changes as well. “As Albert Einstein said, ‘we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ Health takes place on many levels, and while using Adrenal Fatigue Fighter or Anxiety Free, there are many other things that can be done to help alleviate stress and anxiety.”

Among them, exercise is beneficial because it increases energy and builds muscle, both of which help reduce stress, he added. “It also releases endorphins that contribute to a sense of well-being. Sleep is critical, and a lack of it heightens emotions and increases mental, physical and emotional stress. Other methods to help reduce stress and anxiety include prayer, yoga, massage, aromatherapy and a hopeful outlook.” VR

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Targeted Anti-Stress Line

Julie Dennis, national science educator with California-based Source Naturals, provided details of the company’s Serene Science products for stress support:


Substantial research indicates that kava decreases occasional anxiety, validating the traditional use of its roots as a muscle relaxant and a means of relieving an over-stimulated mind. The company sources its kava from Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific that has developed legislation to ensure quality standards for kava exports. These stan dards limit which kava cultivars may be exported and regulate cultivation and harvest.*


Human studies have shown that taking L-theanine may affect alpha waves in the brain associated with states of relaxation and focused attention. Preliminary research suggests that it may modulate the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and inhibit the stimulatory properties of caffeine. L-theanine, one of Source Naturals’ top-selling products for relaxation, is a unique amino acid found almost exclusively in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) and contributes to the unusual taste of green tea. It is thought to support focused attention by crossing the blood-brain barrier.*

Theanine Serene & Theanine Serene with Relora

These formulas contain additional compounds that may help the mind and body relax. They include the calming neurotransmitter GABA, as well as taurine, magnesium and holy basil. GABA is one of the most important neu rotransmitters in the brain for filtering out excess “neuronal noise,” while taurine is an amino acid that cell culture studies have shown may help support this effect of GABA. Magnesium is an essential mineral that supports muscle and nerve relaxation, and calming holy basil leaf extract helps the body and mind adapt to stress and tension.*

Relora contains magnolia and philodendron extracts that may help relieve temporary anxiety.*

L-Tryptophan Often people who experience stress experience occasional sleeplessness. Source Naturals provides support for these often interrelated concerns. An amino acid, L-tryptophan supports the body’s production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that controls feeling good, and melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. One of the company’s top sellers, L-Tryptophan is extremely pure and is regularly tested to ensure the highest standards of quality.*


This complex formula combines the relaxation of GABA with N-acetyl Ltyrosine, a precursor to the “feel good” neurotransmitter dopamine, as well as glycine and taurine, two amino acids that may also help the body relax. GABA Calm comes in melt-inyour- mouth tablets, in both orange and peppermint flavors.*

Holy Basil Extract

The adrenal glands produce the hormone cor tisol in response to stress. With continued stress, cortisol levels may remain elevated. Preliminary research suggests that holy basil may help maintain normal cortisol levels and support healthy adrenal glands, helping the body adapt to the effects of stress. Holy basil, also known as tulsi in India, is a widely acclaimed plant in the ayurvedic tradition for the relief of stress. Modern research has shed more light on this plant’s benefits, showing that holy basil also helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.*

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.