Herbal extracts (Part 2): Taking value from herbs – Driving innovation in the herbal space

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29 Jan 2018 --- Herbal extracts continue to show great potential for innovation in the nutrition sector. The resurgence in the popularity of traditional medicine, which often has a "natural" image, is just one of the reasons why people are showing a renewed interest in products made with herbal content. In the second part of a special report, NutritionInsight looks at innovation and new ingredients within the herbal extracts space.

Consumer trends driving innovation
Because of their wider scope, several herbal extracts are receiving what Shaheen Majeed, Worldwide President, Sabinsa, calls “much-deserved attention” by consumers from all quarters of society.

“It is now understood that traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda have applicability – even in the 21st century and beyond – by virtue of numerous herbal ingredients that have played substantial roles in managing the overall health of human beings since ancient times,” Majeed says. “Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi or Indian Holy Basil), Centella asiatica (Mandukaparni or Gotu Kola), Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari) and Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek) are a few herbal extracts that are gaining more traction in the supplement market than ever.”

“We feel that the trends of a healthy and active lifestyle and a vegan/vegetarian or at least more of a plant-based diet, which is often called ‘soft health,’ is an underlying reason for the current development of the increased application of herbs and herbal extracts in various products,” notes Dr. Oliver Schnorr of Alp Nutrition. “Consumers like to have this feeling of using products with bio/organic herbal compounds, which add health benefits in a natural way.”

“A key benefit of plant extracts is their ability to deliver nutrients naturally – something that’s appealing to many supplement and nutraceutical consumers,” notes Timothée Olagne, Nutrition & Health BU Director, Naturex. “This means there’s a great opportunity for products that incorporate ingredients such as acerola, which is an extremely rich, natural source of Vitamin C – 17 percent to 34 percent depending on the standardization.”

“Natural extracts are also perfect for incorporating into convenient products that can be consumed on the go in formats such as nutrition shots, beverages and snacks,” Olagne observes. “With these products, taste is a much greater consideration than it is with supplements in the form of capsules and pills. The benefit of many herbal extracts is that, as well as great health benefits, they can also deliver good flavor naturally.”

Naturex’s Full Sensation botanical extracts for food and beverage products were developed in response to this market demand, according to Olagne. “They deliver both the sensory appeal and natural health benefits of plants in a water-soluble extract. Options available in the Full Sensation range include rose, chamomile, panax ginseng and yerba mate, all of which add natural functionality and improve the organoleptic experience for the consumer,” Olagne says.

New ingredients and R&D platforms
“Recently, Sabinsa has come up with a new herbal product in the form of black seed (100 percent black cumin seed total extract). Nigella sativa, popularly known as ‘black seed’ or ‘black cumin,’ one of the most revered medicinal seeds in the history of mankind, is indeed a gift from Mother Nature – owing to its well-established, sanctified, and miraculous uses for over 3,000 years,” Majeed says.

“Promond is another product which was recently launched as a rich source of natural protein, sourced out of almonds (Prunus amygdalus),” Majeed adds. “Sabinsa’s Promond is a 100 percent natural and vegan protein, which is standardized to contain not less than 50 percent protein. It has a complete array of amino acids, including high levels of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).”

“Livinol is another newly introduced ingredient by Sabinsa, which is a rich source of Garcinol, a powdered extract obtained from the fruit rind of Garcinia indica and standardized for minimum 20 percent of Garcinol,” Majeed continues. “Livinol is a high-value bioactive which has received multiple patents against its hepatoprotective and healthy weight management potential.”

There are some lesser-known ingredients that Sabinsa expects to grow in acceptance and demand. Majeed notes particular demand “for Ayurvedic herbs, such as Andrographis paniculata (Kalmegh), Asparagus racemosus (Shatavari), Nigella sativa and several others owing to their enormous health-promoting potential that has not been developed because they are still relatively unknown in the West.” Sabinsa expects that these ingredients will become more popular in the coming years.

Alp Nutrition has recently launched its Alp Phyto extract. “Alp Nutrition developed a liquid herbal extract based on seven organically grown plants (e.g., pineapple sage and mallow) in the Swiss Alps,” Dr. Schnorr explains.

“Originally, Alp Phyto was developed for – and exclusively applied – for years in Alp Nutrition products,” Dr. Schnorr says. “Based on several corporate requests it was recently decided to offer this special extract to companies, searching for a high-quality herbal extract for application in water-based beverages like water, tea, sports/energy drinks, near-water products or food supplements.”

A major focus for Naturex is the benefits of ginger for digestion, according to Olagne. “There are 52 studies on PubMed showcasing ginger’s positive effects in this area of health, and Naturex is currently carrying out a further study to reinforce the benefits of our Gingest extract specifically,” Olagne says.

“Aronox, our aronia extract for cardiovascular health, is another ingredient with a substantial body of evidence behind it,” Olagne adds. “Naturex also invests significantly in new clinical studies. Right now we have 15 running, all of which will complete during the next couple of years.”

Herbal extracts continue to show tremendous potential for innovation and future commercial success. The extracts’ wide range of potential health benefits means that they are sure to be followed closely in the nutrition sector in the future.

By Paul Creasy

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