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Drowsy drinks elbow energy drinks on store shelves (News from the Natural Products Expo)

March 11, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Relaxation drinks are vying for shelf space with energy drinks.
Relaxation drinks are vying for shelf space with energy drinks. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Relaxation drinks aren't nearly as popular as energy drinks, but they're coming on strong, according to manufacturers showcasing their wares at the Natural Products Expo Friday in Anaheim.

Energy drinks are hugely popular. But some have gotten a bad rap for potential side effects, especially in children and young adults, such as anxiety, heart palpitations and high blood pressure. That has opened the door to relaxation drinks, some of which may trigger their own set of health problems.

Such drinks contain herbs such as valerian root and the hormone melatonin, which can produce feelings of relaxation -- and may even induce sleep. That's the problem. Some health experts worry about people grabbing a drink off the store shelf and then driving a car, attending a class or operating machinery while becoming increasingly unfocused or even groggy. The drinks typically have warning labels, but consumers may not notice.

Chillout, a new "natural calming drink," made its debut at the Expo. The 8.4-ounce canned beverage contains chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and vitamins. The drink does not come with a warning label. Chillout is not to be confused with Just Chill, another new drink that doesn't contain valerian or melatonin of kava.

Just Chill, the product of a group of Southern California surfers, has chosen to avoid the controversial ingredients, said Caleb Davidge, the Los Angeles representative of the Chill Group Inc. The drink contains the amino acid L-theanine as the active ingredient for relaxation.

"We see our drink as more for stress relief," he said. "It does not cause drowsiness."

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