Four BIG Takeaways from the 2017 Herbal Supplements Sector
2017 had many high and lows, from politics to Tesla to cryptocurrencies. It was a very active year for many market sectors, including herbal supplements.
Here are four big takeaways from the 2017 herbal supplements sector.
- Consumers’ trust in natural herbal supplements skyrockets
In September of 2017, the American Botanical Council published their yearly market report on herbal sales and the numbers were impressive. Sales of herbal supplements in the US in 2016 increased by 7.7% compared to 2015. This demonstrates a continuous shift of consumers from artificially manufactured remedies, to more natural, plant-based alternatives. It all boils down to trust. Traditional remedies such as elderberry against coughs colds and flu, turmeric, aschwagandha are winning over the trust of consumers.
Although the market report for 2017 is not out yet, we expect to see further increase in sales of natural herbal supplements, in keeping with the trends of previous years.
- Prebiotics take center stage.
Most people have heard of, and know what probiotics are. But only few people have heard of prebiotics, and even less people know that polyphenols are potent prebiotics. 2017 may have changed that, thanks to numerous articles on information portals like nutraingerdients.com, the-berry-romm.com as well as the scientific community highlighting the issue through reviews and research.
For those not yet familiar with this topic, bacteria that live in our intestines are very important to our general health. They help digest food components which are not digestible by human enzymes. Some of the resulting compounds directly affect our physiology.
Some gut bacteria show more positive health effects than others, and the goal is to enhance the “helpful” bacteria like Lactobacillus at the expense of the “bad” bacteria like Clostridium difficile.
Simply put, probiotics are living bacteria which are ingested benefit our health, while prebiotics are food items which selectively enhance the growth of gut bacteria populations. Prebiotics positively improve our health by selectively enhancing the growth of certain bacteria populations in our gut. In other words, probiotics “eat” prebiotics, and helpful gut bacteria like lactobacillus love polyphenols, making polyphenols the perfect prebiotics. It only stands to reason that offering products containing both pre- and probiotics will be more effective than offering each alone.
For more information on probiotics and prebiotics you can download this presentation form nutraingredient.com: https://www.nutraingredients.com/Product-innovations/How-Polyphenols-enhance-probiotic-benefits .
In 2018, watch for increased prebiotic formulations to hit the market, as well as co-formulations containing both pre- and probiotics.
- Black elderberry polyphenols are potent alternative to beetroot for sports applications
Manufacturers of black elderberry ingredients like Iprona AG – the largest suppliers of European elderberry ingredients in the world – had much to celebrate in 2017, as elderberry polyphenols brought great results in scientific studies further attracting formulators.
Scientific research with human subjects at the Derby University in the United Kingdom demonstrated that participants who received Haschberg black elderberry as opposed to a placebo had a significant increase in nitric oxide production, less increase in blood pressure and slower heartrate after exercise. This points to increased muscle efficiency, and highlights black elderberry as a natural alternative to beetroot which is a popular sports supplement.
The physiological effect of both elderberry and beetroot which is relevant for sports applications is the ensuing increase in a signal molecule known as nitric oxide upon their consumption. This signal molecule dilates blood vessels by relaxing the smooth muscles on the walls of the blood vessels. This increase in the volume of blood vessels leads to more blood being supplied to muscles, hence increasing oxygen supply and muscle efficiency.
However, while beetroot increases nitric oxide due to its high content in nitric oxide, black elderberry does this by activating a nitric oxide producing system already in place in our bodies. This intrinsic production of nitric oxide in blood vessels is carried out by an enzyme called endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Problems with the functioning of this enzyme may lead to high blood pressure, accelerated ageing, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Elderberry polyphenols are potent activators of endothelial nitric oxide synthase, which may explain their positive effects on human test subjects during exercise.
*In 2018, we predict the advent of numerous sports products containing Haschberg black elderberry as one of the active ingredients.
- Membrane ultrafiltration technology at the forefront.
As already noted above, consumers are increasingly seeking out natural herbal products. But not all natural products are manufactured naturally.
What use is a natural product if the plant ingredients used were extracted using chemical solvents like alcohol which degrade the end product and destroy the original food matrix?
Enter the membrane ultrafiltration technology. The idea behind this proprietary extraction technology by Iprona AG is so simple and logical that you´ll wonder why it´s taken so long for it to gain traction. Take your fruit, press it through a series of semipermeable membranes which have holes of varying sizes and thus separate the fruit components by size, starting with the biggest ones and then down to the smallest ones. The result is a holistic, water-soluble extract free of any added chemicals, and which still resembles the original fruit matrix. Degradation is minimized. The Separated particles can even be recombined in various combinations as specified by the customer. Pure genius!
In 2018, we predict that more manufacturers will opt for premium natural ingredients extracted without chemical solvents in accordnce with consumer demands.
As herbal supplements become more important, we sincerely hope that manufacturers do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Health-aware consumers deserve the high quality foods and supplements they seek.
To quote this article on Forbes: “Consumers Want Healthy Foods–And Will Pay More For Them”