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Dream on!

With nearly 60 million Americans struggling with insomnia, and so many sim- ply not knowing how to relax in general, manufacturers and retailers are presented with a big opportunity in the area of supplements to help people unwind and sleep.

Constantly on the go and with plenty of responsibilities, it’s not unusual to be sleep deprived. Not being able to wind down at the end of a busy day can lead to tossing and turning at night.

“Everybody’s ridiculously stressed, everybody’s adrenals are shot,” said Karen Lauber, owner of The Health Stop in New Jersey. “The trend toward sleep and relaxation is a need.”

Lauber said she’s a big fan of herbs. “One company makes a wonderful product called Stress ReLeaf,” she said. “It tones the adrenals, it’s anti-anxiety and anti-stress.”

In order to suit the customers’ needs, Lauber provides counseling and feels that half the battle is working with peo- ple on medications. She likes to work directly with Herbs Etc. in Santa Fe, NM because she said they are very support- ive and have a medical herbalist on

staff. After a recommendation of a sub- lingual B-12 and magnesium, a stressed customer who was “freaking out” calmed down.

Ameer Yassin, owner of Green Life in New Jersey, also recommends B vitamins and herbs to relax, favoring Oregon’s Wild Harvest Ashwaganda. The company also sells a lot of GABA, a supplement to naturally relieve stress and anxiety which can lead to insomnia.

Increased Need for Natural

Brendan Gaughran, president of Liver Medic in Connecticut, said that from what he’s witnessed and from discus- sions with health food stores across the country, there’s an increased need for effective alternatives to what the phar- maceutical industry can offer. “There are a few drivers for this,” he said, pointing to “an increasing awareness that drugs are a poor solution, the standard American inflammatory diet, and the ever-increasing stress in society.”

That increasing awareness makes nat- ural products welcomed, according to Gaughran.

Educated consumers recognize the

connection between induced chronic inflammation fueling adrenal fatigue, which, in turn, reduces the body’s ability to handle stress and interrupts circadian cycles. Gaughran said that manufactur- ers have to respond accordingly by for- mulating products that address poten- tial gut discomfort, essential mineral and neurochemical deficiencies, in addi- tion to adrenal support. “Some manu- facturers fail to address these many sys- tems including in our physiology,” he said. “A product’s success rates drasti- cally increase the more these physiolog- ical systems are included.”

When developing their products, Liver Medic approaches a symptom as complex as stress or insomnia by addressing multiple physiological sys- tems: the endrocrine system, especially the adrenals; involuntary and voluntary muscles; neurological hormone precur- sors and beyond.

“Many manufacturers do not take into account the holistic nature of stress and sleep,” Gaughran said. “For instance, a vast majority of the population have the MTHFR gene mutation. One might not think much of this, but over 150 com- pounds in the body are negatively impacted. Many of these compounds play a role in our sleep cycle and ability to buffer stress. A formula must have the methylated forms of ingredients to counter this. Also, inexpensive forms of minerals like magnesium are poorly absorbed and will not cross into critical areas such as the brain.”

Gaughran also feels that premium companies go the extra mile to remove potentially questionable ingredients like Mg stearate. “This keeps the product clean of impurities and we know toxins play a major role in our ability to deal with stress,” he said.

Andreas Koch, vice president of mar- keting at Natural Vitality in Texas, agreed that people are looking for nat- ural solutions, as most of our population complains of restlessness, anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. “With our ‘on-the- go’ lifestyle, many are simply over- wound,” said Koch. “As a result, people are looking for solutions to calm them- selves and reset their sleeping pattern. Many supplements are saturating the shelves, and the category seems to be slowly expanding with more facings than ever before.”

Natural Vitality makes Natural Calm, said to be the best-selling magnesium citrate formula on the market. Natural Calm is recognized as a leading anti- stress drink and is carried in almost every health food store, the company reports. The Natural Calm banner will soon be line extending to a new Calmful Sleep product which just launched. The Calmful Sleep product includes its award-winning magnesium citrate formula, along with GABA, mela- tonin and Suntheanine for extra sleep support.

With today’s technology providing us instantaneous information at our finger- tips, Koch said he feels that consumers are now more educated about their product purchase options. “They’re researching ingredients more than ever and seeking natural alternative solutions to addressing relaxation and sleep,” he noted. “These savvier shoppers are opting for alternatives to prescrip- tions and drugs and finding that natural remedies are encouragingly effective.”

Koch added that “Natural Vitality seeks only efficacious ingredients at the optimal dosage levels which are carefully researched for noticeable results.”

Examples of Natural Vitality’s criteria include: organic flavoring, vegan and vegetarian labels, and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredi- ents, along with having reputable third- party lab tests validation.

Koch said that Natural Vitality sup- ports retailers by offering promotions, in-store sampling with various flavored Natural Calm sample packs, its new cor- rugated beverage dispenser and various merchandising tools, such as instant coupons, displays, shelf takers and con- sumer brochures.

Jeremy Corliss of ProHealth, in California, is another marketer who agrees that there seems to be more emphasis on natural products that can improve a user’s quality of life.

“With so many people liv- ing busy, stressful lives, sleep and relaxation are so impor- tant to your overall well- being that the market is look- ing for new and innovative ways to offer products to suit consumers’ needs,” he said. “The natural products indus- try is offering some great solutions with regard to sleep and relaxation, and consumer demand is fueling innova- tion.”

When developing prod- ucts, ProHealth considers what ingredi- ents are proven to help users and how they can combine ingredients to create a synergistic effect. “We also want to bring products to market that are priced competitively and have the fewest unwanted side-effects,” Corliss said.

With the market for natural and homeopathic products growing at its highest rate, Ian Clark, founder of Activation Products in Cobourg, ON Canada, looks beyond the offerings of mainstream medicine. More than a decade ago, his own health crisis led him to natural options, he said. “This is exactly what we are continuing to see all throughout the health and wellness sphere,” she said. “A trend toward greater consumer control, including individuals seeking out information outside of their doc- tor’s offices, accessing care from alternative providers and pursu- ing products that are naturally sourced and trustworthy.”

Clark added, “People are tired of being prescribed pills that while they may help them sleep, don’t help them to feel any more rested and have serious side effects, including dependency. For a long time, this was the only real solution that was being offered to people who had trouble sleeping.”

Activation Products offers its EASE Magnesium, which helps people get the sleep they need, waking up feeling refreshed, not groggy and without side effects, she said.

“Our primary concerns are effective- ness, quality, and purity,” Clark contin- ued. “Product adoption is also a major concern. We have learned that no mat- ter how well made or effective a prod- uct is, if it is difficult for people to incor- porate into their lifestyles, they simply won’t use it. Meaning it doesn’t do them, or us, any good. We have a com- mitment to our customers to make products that are com- pletely natural and made from the highest quality ingredients possible using the most advanced methods in exis- tence.”

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