The growing thirst for mood-boosting drinks
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“Like a hit of sunshine for your mind,” reads the tagline to Kin Spritz – a drink from Kin Euphorics’ line of sparkling non-alcoholic drinks. Co-founded by supermodel Bella Hadid, the range of “mood-boosting” beverages, packaged in pastel cans and infused with adaptogens and nootropics such as Schisandra and L-Theanine, promise to help “conjure inner peace” and “unlock heart-opening joy any time of day”.
The US-based brand is part of a new wave of wellness drinks that aren’t just bottling minerals and vitamins – they’re promising brighter moods and calmer states of mind. “Take a trip to happy days,” offers CBD-infused drinks brand, Trip. “We canned a feeling: calm, cool, collected,” says Recess.
The growing thirst for these “functional beverages’‘ dovetails with wellness trends such as clean eating and sober curiosity. A recent report predicted that the functional beverages market (incorporating non-alcoholic drinks and those with vitamins, minerals, dietary fibres, probiotics and added fruits) will reach $156.43bn by 2026. “I think it’s led by more people caring about their health, but also feeling really stressed,” says Celeste Perez, who co-founded her LA-based wellness drinks brand Droplet in 2019, after discovering the benefits of adaptogens during an intense bout of burnout. “They worked, but the problem was that they tasted like dirt,” she says. There are currently three flavours in Droplet’s range: Pretty Bright, a yuzu and reishi-mushroom infusion for “when you’re feeling jet lagged or a little off”; Pretty Happy, which combines cacao, passion fruit and mood-enhancing rhodiola; and the ashwagandha-infused Pretty Balanced. “That one’s great post-workout or when you’ve had a long day and want to have a good night’s sleep,” she says.
The key ingredients in many of these drinks are nootropics – a class of chemicals or supplements that purport to enhance cognitive function – and adaptogens, a group of non-toxic herbs and mushrooms that have been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine for millennia to regulate hormones. Dr Frank Lipman, a pioneer of functional medicine – an alternative medicine based around identifying and addressing root causes of disease – likens them to thermostats. “They help you adapt to the stresses of life so if you’re run down, they can give you a bit of energy, and if you’re stressed, they can calm you down,” he explains.
Trip, whose trio of lemon-basil, elderflower-mint and peach-ginger sparkling drinks harnesses a cocktail of adaptogens and CBD – a non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant that can help reduce anxiety and boost serotonin levels – also aim to help you unwind. “I call it a slight softening,” says Olivia Ferdi, who left a career in law to launch the company in 2019 with her husband, who discovered the benefits of CBD following a painful knee injury. Today, Trip can be found in 10,000 stores across the UK, including major supermarkets, and launched in the US last year. “The beauty of CBD is the gentleness,” adds Ferdi, saying that the effect, for many of their customers, is immediate. “If someone’s a bit anxious, particularly in social situations, it can help them feel more relaxed and enjoy themselves – and because there is no evidence to suggest that CBD can lead to addiction, you can have multiple drinks throughout the day.”
Some new coffees also include mood-boosting adaptogenic mushrooms. London Nootropics, which launched in 2020, has three different blends, from a lion’s mane and rhodiola blend designed for mental clarity and productivity, to a zen-inducing CBD and ashwagandha-infused coffee that is “particularly popular with those sensitive to caffeine,” say founders Zain Peer and Shez Shaikh.
But Dr Lipman cautions against treating these drinks as a solve-all magic elixir. “The problem is that you need a good dose for them to be effective,” he says. “The other thing is that adaptogens and nootropics should be used intelligently; therapeutics work differently on different people depending on their genetics. For some people they can be very helpful but for others they may even make things worse.”
And unlike drinking caffeine or alcohol, some of these drinks don’t have an instantaneous effect. “Depending on your body or how stressed you are, it can take up to two weeks before you see the full effect,” says Droplet’s Perez, also a certified holistic nutritionist. “And people react better to certain ingredients. For me, rhodiola is amazing – I feel sharper and brighter, I just feel so great on it. Everybody has a different system so you’ve got to find what works for you.”