Q: Do those new relaxation drinks really calm you down and reduce stress?
A: Relaxation drinks with names like Just Chill and Neuro Bliss sound like they must be Valium in a can, and the truth is, many people do say they feel more relaxed or calm about half an hour after drinking them. A likely reason: the blend of herbs, supplements, botanicals, and amino acids they contain, which previously have been used individually as calming agents.
Chances are you’ve already tried to drink away stress—perhaps with a beer, a glass of wine, or a martini. Or maybe you prefer tea. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you know that a cup of tea is the British solution to all life’s troubles (especially when you prepare it perfectly, like this). The key may be theanine, an anxiety-reducing chemical in tea that seems to offset its stimulating caffeine. Not surprisingly, theanine is one of a number of ingredients in most chill-out beverages.
Other things you might find in the ingredient list of your favorite antistress drink: valerian root, an herb that treats insomnia and calms gastrointestinal distress; 5-HTP, a byproduct of the amino acid tryptophan, which increases production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain; GABA, a calming neurotransmitter; and melatonin, the sleep hormone.
No scientific studies confirm how well these ingredients work together, but as an occasional stress reliever, beverages containing them may be worth a try. Just to be on the safe side, though, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery after drinking one.
TASNEEM BHATIA, MD, is medical director and founder of the Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine.
Send your questions for Dr. Bhatia to firstname.lastname@example.org.