Does Relaxation Require a Special Drink?

By , SparkPeople Blogger

One of the top one hit wonder songs of the 1980's was Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The key words to the song were relax and don't do it. Those words also apply to the new line of beverages called relaxation drinks.

A new Wall Street Journal article outlines some scary truths about these new drinks that have not been clinically tested but have been touted to lower stress, anxiety and aid sleep. Since key ingredients range from plant extracts to natural human hormones, I thought it would be important to explain a little more about them before you decide if they are right for you.

While the UK, Japan, and France are also embracing the relaxation drink craze, the U.S. is the relaxation drink leader hosting dozens of brands. Drink names like Vacation in a Bottle, Mary Jane's Relaxation Soda, Dream Water, and Mini Chill entice people to try the drinks but care is necessary since marketing focus and study claims can be misleading.

Take for instance an ingredient in Mary Jane's soda called kava root that has scientific evidence for effectiveness in reducing anxiety. Documented kava success was in people with doctor-diagnosed anxiety not day-to-day stress. Therefore, if you are looking to reduce your "road rage" or to reduce anxiety for an airplane trip, you may not find significant benefit. If you have medical conditions, kava root may not be for you either. The Food and Drug Administration warned about kava root back in 2002 because it was linked with severe liver injury that for some people led to liver failure and transplantation. These links with liver injury came from dietary supplements and the company that produces Mary Jane's soda believes it uses a safer method but does suggest consumers limit intake.

Another drink, Dream Water, contains a hormone known as melatonin, the amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan, and the neurotransmitter gamma-amino butyric acid. Although melatonin may assist sleep in healthy people, in January the FDA issued warnings that it has not been approved as a food additive although companies are marketing these drinks under the category of dietary supplements. Because these blurred lines exist which interfere with consumer safety, legislation has been introduced to regulate dietary supplements.

Instead of using questionable relaxation drinks that could put your health at risk and may provide over 150 calories and 45 grams of sugar, perhaps other relaxation options would be better. Try deep breathing or progressive muscular relaxation (PMR) to help you relax and release tension. If your work is stress filled, find easy ways to relax on the job that helps you find your center and does not require artificial drinks. When insomnia keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep, evaluate potential causes and alternative solutions that might help while also improving your health at the same time. Consider yoga and learning poses that help you rest better.

Have you heard of relaxation drinks before. Are these something you would consider or are other options for stress and relaxation things you would consider first?

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Is it any wonder that, after getting all hyped up on the Red Bull type products, we now need something to calm us down? Sad... Report
I hadn't heard of these drinks before reading this blog. I would probably not use them, but only because I don't like to drink my calories....and when I do, I would rather spend them on a nice glass of red wine, which I find very relaxing. I sometimes go through bouts of insomnia, and use self-hypnosis (which involves things like deep breathing and muscle relaxation, brain-wave modulation through sound, etc). But sometimes it doesn't quite get the job done, in which case, I do turn to herbal sleep aids with things like melatonin, kava, valerian, hops, passionflower, and even catnip! Sometimes, these are in herbal tea form, sometimes they are drops that I put into water, sometimes just a capsule. Either way, I think that, as with most things in life, the key is moderation and common sense. (i.e., limit quantities, don't use them every day, don't mix with alcohol, etc.) There are certainly more unhealthy alternatives which people use for stress relief. The biggest problem with the drinks mentioned in this blog, IMHO, is the sugar content (okay, and the fact that so many people DON'T apply common sense and moderation). Report
This is all new to me. Thanks for giving us the cutting edge in info! Report
I had not heard of these drinks and would not believe their claims if I had. Report
New to me. Report
Thanks for the artice. I have never heard of these drinks but it sounds like we need to be sure to drink clean as well as eat clean. Report
I've not heard of these, but I guess it was only a matter of time. Energy drinks are making the manufacturers rich, why not go after the relaxation angle too? So many people want a quick fix, and the chemical companies are more than willing to sell it to them. I'll stick to my water, tea and occasional wine. If I need to relax I'll meditate, it's sugar free, calorie free, and cost free!! Report
Have never heard of these drinks, but then am not up on all the energy boosting drinks either. To me it seems like 'buyer beware' and 'if it is too good to be true, it probably is'. Report
I had never heard of these. they sound kind of scary--like liquid muscle relaxers and a new thing for addictions. Report
Umm, silly me. I thought alcohol was a relaxation drink. Do we really need this category of "food"? Report
I've never heard of these drinks before either. Will the marketing of this kind of junk ever end?? I'd be interested in testing the brain power of people that actually buy this kind of thing, are they the same as the people buying Tabloids?? Where are they on the scale of having their full wits about them?? lol Report
Why don't people just try Valerian Root tea? It relaxes ME, anyway--might put many others to sleep (I'm a little high strung) ... yoga also may work (more gentle kind) ..

Tina Report
Never heard of these! Thanks for the heads-up (although from their names I don't think I would have tried them anyway). Report
Sounds like a bunch of hooey to me... I'd prefer the natural ways. Report
I have never heard of these before. I would never try it. There are many other ways to relax like taking a bath, going for a walk or talking to a friend. Report
Thanks for the heads-up. What will they think of next to get us to spend our money! A drink to hype us up (like Redbull) or a drink to relax us (this new stuff). No thanks to both! Report
I heard of these drinks but the only thing I do to relax is take a power nap, sip some herbal tea, meditate in a very quiet place. A good warm bath also does the trick. Report
It's funny because I thought this article was going to be about alcoholic beverages. I had no idea that "relaxation drinks" even existed. Good information to know. If I do come across them I won't waste my money or potentially endanger my health. Report
I have never heard of those. Sounds like another way to part a fool and his/her money to me. Report
Never heard of them.and wouldn't try them!!! Report
Never heard of them before, but I'm generally pretty laid back to begin with....

I may be needing a picker-upper instead! :) Report
Tea is the only thing I've heard of before this article. Sounds like that is the one to stick with. Report
I have never heard of any of these. My herbal tea is the only drink I need to relax with. Report
I'm glad I saw this! I have never heard of such a thing, but I might have given it a try without looking at the ingredients, and I found out the hard way a couple of years ago that I'm allergic to melatonin. I would have broken out in hives and had no idea why, if I'd had one of those drinks with that particular ingredient! I'll stick with milk or herbal tea, thanks. Report
are people out of their mind!! i have never heard of any of these but the only relaxation drink i have is tea! lol which i will definitely stick to! Report
Well, this has certainly educated me. Thanks for this article. I've never heard of drinks such as these. I'll stick to my green tea! Report
If we didn't do everything that somebody said might be bad for us, including food, what would be left to eat or do? It is hard to sort it all out and know what to pay attention to! Report
I struggle with the FDA on their 'warnings'. How many times in a day do you see a commercial for compensation due to using a certain drug that was approved by the FDA. Report
I saw a report on FoxNews yesterday about these and they made a good point: If you need a drink for energy or to relax, there is something you are doing wrong in your lifestyle! Report
I think it is funny that a DRINK has been developed to encourage relaxation! Can we do nothing for ourselves? What happened to taking a deep breath or going on a walk? I get stressed and anxious, but this seems like a marketing ploy that preys on our need for immediate results with minimal effort (i.e., why would i take the time to walk or breathe if i can throw down a drink that will chill me out). You can't BUY relaxation, you have to DO it! (I do understand that there are those with chemical imbalances and anxiety disorders that may require medication, and I fully support medicinal treatment, but that is a different subject.) Report
I've never heard of these drinks before. Without reading this article I would have thought they were harmless but a scam. Reading this article makes it certain that I will not try them.

I'd much rather relax with some mellow music and meditation. Report
I have not heard of these drinks before reading this blog. A relaxation drink to me is a nice glass of red wine with some good friends! Report
I've never heard of "relaxation drinks" before. At first I thought the article was going to be about booze! Report
I haven't heard of these drinks. Aren't most medicines chemically recreated from a natural compound. I do take homeopathic medicines but as directed. Why would you want to drink these, and with the added sugar? Report
I read the ingredients list on a few of these drinks - they are full of preservatives, corn syrup, and Sucralose. I don't think a discerning person would ever buy these as a "health" drink. Also, why buy a relaxation aid in a very un-green plastic bottle? I don't see these drinks replacing carefully researched supplements or even a Nice Cup of Tea. Report
Once in awhile a cup of tea is good to decompress, but then I find Yoga is the best for relaxation. Report
I have never heard of a relaxation drink before. What will people think of next as a way to part people from their hard earned money ? eh-hem...

No, I would not buy one of these drinks believing that relaxation can be bottled and marketed. Nope, give me a cup of tea or glass of wine and a good book. That's how I relax.

I'm a pretty high stress person, but good lord! I couldn't imagine drinking anything to relax but tea or wine :) Report
Wow! This is news to me- never heard of them! And I don't think I'll ever try them. Report
Are people crazy?! Why do we keep looking for "magic formulas" that are manufactured for us?! Everything we really need to eat and drink in order to have a healthy balanced life is from nature. Sure there is room for some processed treats in our diet, but this is ridiculous. I would never waste my money on such a product Report
I've never heard of Relaxation drinks. As a healthcare professional though I have to say that even taking medications to reduce anxiety comes with a price. Everything has a side effect, some people are more prone to these side effects than others. I personally would not drink these as my relaxation is a good run and some soothing music. However, for another person the Relaxation drink may be for them. Report
What makes me relax as well as energize me is a cup of hot tea. I've heard of quite a few of drink however, refuse to add too much artificial drinks as well as food into my body. There's enough toxins out there that I have no control over. Good educational information, thanx! Report
Water is all I need. I don't believe in using specialty drinks for relaxation, fitness, or whatever. Report
I have never been much of a beverage drinker with all those on the market..just Tea with lemons and Diet Dr. Pepper-- those get me!!! The Article is interesting to see what is out there and what to watch for.... Report
Never heard of these drinks. Don't think I'm missing anything. One of my "other goals" is to meditate every day. I wouldn't trade that for anything now. So thank you for this information. I'll keep a watch out for them and make other suggestions to anyone I know who would use them. Report
I agree with others, too. Can you really top a nice cup of tea for a relaxation drink? Report
I suffer both anxiety and pretty much constant low energy. I'd be afraid that something like this would just make me sleep more, get less work done and stress even worse. Report
I received a free sample bottle of Dream Water in the mail a few weeks ago; my only reason for giving it a try was that I got to try it for free. Anyway, I drank it an hour before bedtime and it didn't even make me sleepy. Report
Have not even heard of thes options before. In our house, we brew a cup of warm, decaff herbal tea if we are looking for a relaxing beverage. Scary calorie counts on the options on the market, I prefer to chew my calories... Report
Huh, never heard of these drinks.

I often drink teas that are marketed as "relaxing" with ingredients like chamomile and lavender, but mainly because I like the taste (and they aren't any more expensive than other high end teas). Report
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