The phone is ringing, the kids are screaming, you had a 10-hour workday and no sleep the night before, your head is pounding, the car needs gas ... whew! It's enough to stress out even Super Mom and Dad.
The beverage industry has come up with a new wave of drinks that promise to help consumers slow down a life that is in constant fast-forward. These relaxation drinks claim to help you feel relaxed, focused, calm and even sleepy for a peaceful night's rest.
Steve Panzella, president of the company that makes the relaxation shot beverage Mini Chill, says that these soothing drinks are better alternatives to drinking alcohol or taking sleep aids as a way to unwind. Panzella also says that when people are stressed and overwhelmed, "adding caffeine to that equation might be a bad thing, because it will just make you more stressed out, more anxious and less productive."
Many of these beverages claim to contain "natural herbs" -- such as valerian root, kava extract, rose hips and melatonin. Although they may sound like appealing alternatives to chemicals, little scientific research has been done on these herbal ingredients.
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"The herbs may be natural, but that doesn't mean that they aren't dangerous or don't have side effects," says Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "The buyer still needs to be very aware and take caution. I don't think we can claim that [these drinks] are a safer alternative to things that are already out there."
Though science and natural medicine may take opposing sides, it is clear to the consumer that a lot of promise is being packed into a small container. We decided to try out some of the most popular beverages on the market to see if their claims were hard to swallow or easy to stomach.
Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda
Promises, promises: "Enjoy euphoric relaxation that's all natural, plain and simple," says the sodalike glass bottle. The drug reference in the brand name attracts teens and young adults and definitely attracts the attention of consumers. It also warns consumers to drink no more than 2 bottles a day ... hmmm.
What's inside: kava extract, which is found in some relaxation teas
Are we down with it? The soda tastes like a Coca-Cola with less syrup. Though it was tasty, the only relaxing that I experienced was the blood sugar crash from the 39 grams of sugar in every bottle.
Find it: relaxingsoda.com for $2.29 a can.
Promises, promises: Its slogan is "unwind from the grind."
What's inside: 5 milligrams of melatonin, which is a chemical that the brain produces naturally to tell the body to fall asleep
Are we down with it? Unfortunately, I still felt drowsy after being awake for a couple hours the next morning.
Find it: Relaxation shots (2 fluid ounces) are sold at Smoothie King for $3.99 and some 7-Eleven stores.
Promises, promises: "Dr. formulated to make you feel calm, focused & happy."
What's inside: valerian root, and some other things we can't pronounce
Are we down with it? Though the taste wasn't the greatest, it came in a small shot form and didn't contain melatonin so it can be taken during the middle of a stressful workday.
Find it: Some 7-Eleven stores and minichill.com.
Promises, promises: On the can, it says it is an "Extreme Relaxation Beverage" and the slogan beneath that states "slow your roll"
What's inside: Melatonin, valerian root and rose hips ... oh, and lots of sugar.
Are we down with it? Slightly carbonated, with a subtle grape flavor. The drink is crisp and refreshing, but it contains two servings with 110 calories each per can and 55 total grams of sugar. I didn't feel much effect from the "relaxing" herbs.
Find it: www.drankbeverage.com
Promises, promises: "Calm down, relax the body, focus the mind"
What's inside: B vitamins, rose hips, valerian root and more sugar. Also comes in two other flavors: Berry Calming and Classic Lemon-Lime.
Are we down with it? Tastes very similar to Drank because it is carbonated and has a more potent grape flavor. This drink only has 100 calories per can and does not make you want to nap after you drink it, either.
Find it: Sold at some 7-Eleven stores for $2.60 a can or at mypurplestuff.com
Promises, promises: "A delicious berry-flavored tea that helps you chill out and relax ... naturally!"
What's inside: melatonin, fruit juice and only 30 calories per serving.
Are we down with it? Has a strong taste of natural cherry juice and other fruit flavors. The bottle contains four servings so you can have more bang for your buck. Plus, it only has 1 gram of melatonin per serving, so you won't hit the snooze button over and over in the morning.
Find it: Sold at some Walmart stores.
Promises, promises: The bottle, clearly labeled as a sleep aid, tells consumers to get at least seven hours of sleep when taking the product. "Relaxation, Nighttime Rejuvenation and Renewal. Awake Refreshed!"
What's inside: vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, melatonin and natural plant extracts
Are we down with it? It tastes like a fruity orange Dreamsicle popsicle. When they say to have at least seven hours to sleep ... they mean it!
Find it: www.agrolabs.com