Herbal Drinks: the New Liquid Drugstore?
Walk down any beverage aisle in your local supermarket, and you may think you have been transported to a pharmacy. Once plain juices, waters, and sodas are now bursting with exotic additives—ginseng, ginkgo, and others—that promise to pump you up, relax you, or improve your memory. There is even a name for these drinks: “functional beverages.” Do these ingredients really “work” when added to drinks?
What Is Being Added?To avoid entanglement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has strict guidelines about product health claims, most drink manufacturers carefully refrain from making direct promises about benefits or curing diseases. However, product labels list ingredients and often outline general benefits of these ingredients, leaving consumers to draw their own conclusions about the potential health effects of the drink.Some common herbal ingredients used in functional drinks and their supposed associated benefits, as listed by the manufacturers, include:
|Ginkgo||Enhance memory and mental alertness|
|Echinacea||Stimulates the body’s defenses|
|St. John’s Wort||Enhances mood|