NutraGenesis brings ayurvedic plant benefits to foods

NutraGenesis has high hopes for its new ashwagandha extract, which
it says has already attracted strong interest from multinational
manufacturers eager to use the ayurvedic ingredient, believed to
have stress-reducing properties, in a range of functional foods.

Called Essentra, the GRAS-affirmed product has been approved for functional food claims in several categories, including stress management, energy recovery, mental cognition, glucose release and weight management, says the company.

Ashwanganhda, or withania somnifera​, has been used by Ayurvedic practitioners in its native India for thousands of years. Its root is rich in flavonoids and steroidal lactones called withanolides, which are thought to have a number of beneficial properties, including anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, mental cognition-boosting, immune-enhancing, and rejuvenating.

NutraGenesis obtains its ashwanganhda from cultivated sources in India, where it is extracted from the root and the leaf using a patented process involving water and methanol.

This process, says NutraGenesis president Suzanne McNeary, yields an extract with a far higher concentration of withanolides than any other available in the US - 8 percent, compared with a typical 1.5 percent.

It has already been available to supplements manufacturers for the past year under the Sensoril brand. The introduction of Essentra, which is available in soluble, non-soluble, bitter mask and baked goods variants, will allow it to be used in gums, lozenges, nutrition bars, cereals, functional waters, hot beverages and snacks.

Company president Suzanne McNeary told​: "I think this will be a multimillion dollar product within 18 months, considering the size of some of the companies we are talking to."

The pricing structure for Essentra has not yet been established, but Sensoril costs $150 a kg compared with around $40 per kilo for extracts with 1.5 percent withanolides.

Although it may be more expensive, McNeary says that far less Sensoril needs to be added to formulations to achieve the same withanolide content. For example, a capsule containing 450mg of a 1.5 percent withanolide extract will have 6.75 mg of withanolides, whereas 125 mg of Sensoril yields 10mg of withanolides.

Several companies have already launched products containing Sensoril, including Vitamin Research Products and Pure Essence. Another four or five are expected to launch in the coming months.

Studies into the anti-stress properties of ashwangandha have been carried out and McNeary told​ that the first stages of a wide-ranging, placebo-controlled study into its effects on humans has just been completed at an Ayurvedic hospital in India. The results will be submitted to a peer review journal for publication in due course.

Structure/function health claims for Senteril have been substantiated by an FDA law firm, according to McNeary, meaning that supplement makers can claim it 'helps increase resistance to fatigue, stress, tension and irritability' or 'helps cope with stress'.

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