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Berkem builds science to support anti-stress ingredient

By Stephen Daniells , 22-Mar-2007

France-based Berkem is building the science behind their ingredients, with results from a double-blind placebo-controlled study for their lemon balm extract showing efficiency for the developing anti-psychological stress market.

According to WHO estimates, more than 450 million people suffer from stress worldwide, with 17 per cent of Europeans stating that stress is the most important risk factor to health. The related costs of stress estimated at €20bn in Europe (WHO) and $200bn in the US (International Labor Office). Berkem has specialised in polyphenols since 1964. It has attracted interest in the past year as its coffee-derived Svetol ingredient for weight loss has received industry accolades. The lemon balm extract, Cyracos, already available and successfully formulated in several products in both Europe and the US, is said to be suitable for dietary supplements, and could also achieve high success in a variety of foods, as well as beverages, chilled products, sweet and savory foods, among other products. Karine Nardon, technical support manager at Berkem told NutraIngredients.com that production of the extract using a hydroalcoholic extraction process conserves the ensemble of the lemon balm constituents. The powder, which has excellent solubility in water, does have a slight lemon odour, but this can be easily masked in finished products, she said. "We use a non-selective traditional process of extraction that holds to the virtues of the traditional method in order to preserve all the plant's qualities and natural benefits," said Benoit Lemaire, Berkem's business director. The stress-busting properties of the extract have been reinforced by a double-blind placebo-controlled study, the results of which are yet to be published in a peer-review journal. The study assigned 30 people with symptoms of anxiety and suffering from sleep disturbances to receive either a daily supplement of 600 mg of lemon balm extract (Cyracos), or placebo, for 15 days. Nardon said that people with symptoms of anxiety and suffering from sleep disturbances were supplemented during only 15 days in order to validate the quick efficacy of the extract against 19 different paprameters of psychological stress, like anxiety and insomnia. Berkem reports that, at the end of the study the extract resulted in a 49 per cent reduction of the state of anxiety, a 72 per cent reduction of anxiety associated symptoms, and a 39 per cent decrease of insomnia. NutraIngredients.com has not seen the full data.

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