In Adaptogens, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Cordyceps, Mushrooms, Quick Bites

The ABC’s of Adaptogens

If you haven’t started finding adaptogens in your food, your coffee, your smoothies, your kombucha and your chocolate, you soon will. Adaptogens are botanicals that help the body adapt to stress. While we’re not medical experts here at NEXT, many of our clients are curious about adaptogens. So, in the spirit of back to school season, this week we’re giving you the cliff notes on three popular adaptogens, starting at the beginning of the alphabet.

Ashwagandha, Sanskrit for ‘Smells like Horse’ (yes, really), is used in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s been studied as an “adaptogenic, antioxidant, anti-cancer, anxiolytic, antidepressant, cardioprotective, thyroid modulating, immunomodulating, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, cognitive enhancing, and hematopoietic agent.” In one 64 subject study, subjects took 300mg of high concentration full spectrum ashwagandha extract. After 60 days, subjects taking ashwagandha had reduced cortisol and reported lower levels of stress (yes, please!).

Bacopa is both an adaptogen and a nootropic plant that grows in marshlands in subtropical regions. According to WebMD, “Bacopa is commonly used for Alzheimer’s disease, improving memory, anxiety, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), among many other uses.” A 2017 paper explained, “Studies have shown that EBm (bacopa extract) promotes free radical scavenger mechanisms and protects cells in prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and striatum against cytotoxicity and DNA damage implicated in Alzheimer’s.” This article summarizes several other bacopa studies in relation to cognitive performance, anxiety and more.

Cordyceps is a fungus that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. WebMD explains, “In test tubes, cordyceps seems to trigger immune cells. It may help the immune system fight some viruses and cancers. In at least one large-scale study, cordyceps lowered creatinine levels in people with chronic kidney disease, and in others, it had the effect of protecting the kidneys from toxic drugs, complications of diabetes, and transplant rejection. It may also lower blood sugar levels.” So why is cordyceps considered an adaptogen? The same reason it’s used in coffee substitutes or energy support supplements – with claims it supports stamina and energy by increasing oxygen uptake.

Mushroom-based Vitality Supplement

A new supplement featuring cordyceps and reishi, along with notable botanicals goji berries, dong quai and more. This formula supports the body’s energy systems and promotes more vitality and rejuvenation.
Market Prediction: 47
Said they would buy: 4%

Egg Protein Powder with Adaptogens

Formulated with egg white protein, grass-fed collagen peptides, and adaptogenic herbs such as maca root and Ashwagandha, this protein powder mix is unflavored, and is designed to be blended into a morning smoothie.
Market Prediction: 39
Said they would buy: 6%

Healthy Mind Turmeric & Bacopa Supplement

Supplement combining bacopa and a proprietary herbal blend rich in protective antioxidants to support healthy brain function and help maintain recall, addressing the growing problem of cognitive decline.
Market Prediction: 76
Said they would buy: 9%

The average Market Prediction score for all products in the Concept Lab is 74 and the average Purchase Intent score is 12%, which tells us that adaptogen-centric products still fall below average, indicating that the market is not yet mainstream. The third concept tested well in comparison, which may be partially explained by the pairing of bacopa with turmeric, a familiar ingredient, or by the explanation of how the protective antioxidants work. Two things are for sure: it may not be long before adaptogens like bacopa and ashwagandha are as well known as turmeric, and we’ll be watching.

Curious how the addition of adaptogens might impact your new product concept? Contact the NEXT Data & Insights team to test your new product idea in our Concept Lab. Counting down the days until Natural Products Expo East? (19 days!) Don’t forget to get a copy of the NEXT Trend Guidebook and prep for Expo East like a pro.