Pharmactive introduces botanical to tackle teenage mental health

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images Boyloso
© Getty Images Boyloso

Related tags Pharmactive Mental health Coronavirus

As the pandemic and social unrest heighten anxiety levels, some parents are seeking natural solutions for their stressed teenagers.

 Nearly half of Americans have reported the coronavirus crisis is negatively impacting their mental health, according to a Kaiser family foundation poll.

From grieving the loss of special year-end milestones, to adjusting to online learning and limited social interaction, the disruption of the pandemic is also taking a heavy toll on teens.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), early evidence suggests young people in their teens and 20s are at a greater risk depression and anxiety, with a reduced ability to seek services they need.

Indeed, a study of 500 participants in the University of Oxford’s “Achieving Resilience During COVID-19” (ARC) revealed that more than one-third of 13 to 18-year-olds reported high levels of loneliness. The study also found evidence of loneliness as depression and possible anxiety predicter.  

According to Pharmactive Biotech, SL, parents are seeking holistic mental health solutions for their themselves and their children. To address this need, the developer and manufacturer now offers affron, an all-natural saffron extract for mental health for teens and other age groups.


According to Pharmactive, affron is the first saffron extract (Crocus sativus​ L.) is the first clinically-proven botanical to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in teenagers.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of adolescents aged 12-16 years with mild-to-moderate symptoms, affron, when taken over an 8-week period, improved anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Phamractive says its clinical studies on adolescents suggest that affron could be a safe option for helping teens and even younger children cope with crisis events, especially where access to in-person psychological therapy is restricted.

“affron is designed to be used as a method to calm the mind every day, so it is preferable to take it during the stress or mental unbalance period. It can be used to help cope with a stressful lifestyle or with anxiety symptoms or sadness,”​ explained Julia Díaz Sáez, Head of Marketing for Pharmactive.

The ingredient has been studied at a dosage of 28mg per day. Pharmactive said this is the lowest dosage threshold on the market. The company says this low dose is possible due to its high bioavailability, which uses a patented extraction process called AFF ON Cool-Tech​ that uniquely concentrates and preserves the active ingredient.

“affron possesses a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory impact, which not only could help balance key neurotransmitters levels, such as serotonin and dopamine, but also fights the oxidative stress produced by anxiety and stress in the brain,”​ explained Alberto Espinel, Manager of Strategic R&D in Active and Functional Natural Ingredients for Pharmactive. “Unfortunately, investigations into the use of herbal and nutraceutical agents for youth are limited. However, they carry significant potential that has yet to be realized. This gap in scientific exploration is what inspired our study of affron with adolescents.” 

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Sáez told NutraIngredients-USA​ that the teenage supplement market is a missed opportunity. “Most ingredients developers are focusing on adults segments only and are not paying attention to the coming generations who are boosting the green and clean label movement and who are demanding alternatives to traditional approaches.”

“Additionally, they are usually more open to alternatives and innovations, so there are opportunities to explore. This, adds to the fact that adolescent population is experimenting growing anxiety and stress problems and their parents are taking action to help them, seeking for different approaches to improve their mood, focus and healthy habits,” explained Sáez.

Under the influence

“Another important issue to take into account is that parents are influencing the adolescent’s consumption, so indirectly, we are reaching the largest segment of population,” ​said Saez, who added that teen supplement use varies depending on the country. “As general rule, adolescents are increasing each day their food supplements consumption, in many cases supported by their parents and current green and natural trends. According to US Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) studies, 63% of US young adults (aged 18) are now taking supplements. This habit is starting earlier in the adolescence.”

affron is a finalist for this year’s Cognitive Health Ingredient category for the NutraIngredient-USA​ Awards.

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