Relaxation Drinks: Beverages Intended to Calm You
A recent article published in the Globe & Mail’s Health and Fitness section espoused a series of “relaxation drinks” such as ‘Slow Cow’ and ‘iChill’. For today’s fast paced environment where lunches are engulfed within minutes while driving or during a phone conversation, it would seem that the developers behind these new drinks should be applauded for their vision. For example, one of the marketing slogans from Quebec based Slow Cow is quoted to describe its product as “acupuncture in a can”, as if the benefit of acupuncture is merely for relaxation.
Some of the ingredients listed in Slow Cow include melatonin (a naturally occurring hormone for sleep maintenance), valerian root (a common herbal sleep aid) and L-theanine (an ingredient found in green tea which balances the effects of caffeine). Due to the natural health ingredients within the product, Health Canada is likely looking to regulate it as a natural health product although this has not yet transpired.
As the article did not convey the concentration of the active ingredients, it is difficult to determine what kind of an effect each can of Slow Cow will have for the individual, however, representatives from iChill and Slow Cow have noted that the product is “not recommended for children under 13 [and advises against] operating heavy machinery as the product can make people sleepy”.
I suppose one could argue for or against the introduction of these drinks on the market; one might consider the effects of caffeine in caffeinated beverages – it certainly is legal (and unregulated by Health Canada) to sell them, and it is well documented to have effects akin to stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. As such, it would seem natural to have drinks on the market which support the parasympathetic nervous system by promoting calm and relaxation.
That said, the concern lies with the presence of the hormone melatonin. Just because something is natural does not mean that it is completely safe. The same goes for the presence of valerian root and L-theanine. These ingredients may cause interactions or potentiations with pharmaceutical drugs when drunk in high enough amounts. Ultimately, it behooves the consumer to consider the possible risks when drinking these “relaxation drinks” in the presence of certain pharmaceutical medications – it would be prudent to check with their healthcare provider to discuss the possible risks.
In summary, I think these drinks have been marketed beautifully, aiming to target those who seem too busy to slow down. That said, it might be better just to go for a long walk along Vancouver’s seawall.
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