It may seem far away, but many companies are wrapping up their R&D and preparing for their launches next year. So what does Spring 2022 have in store? Gene Bruno, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for NutraScience Labs, said to know the future, you have to look back.
“In 2019 and 2020, ingestible forms of CBD was trending like a runaway freight train. In 2021, trending interest in those same CBD products is more akin to a kiddy choo choo train at an amusement park. The way it looks is that CBD ingestibles will cease to be a trend entirely in 2022—although there still seems to be interest in topical CBD products,” explained Bruno.
Bruno said that 2020 and 2021 saw significant interest in immune health supplements—largely fueled by COVID-19 concerns.
“While some have predicted that interest in immune health supplements will start to wane, the rise in the COVID variants suggests otherwise—and even if COVID cases decline before the years end it is still likely that interest will continue since consumers now have a better appreciation for the value of a strong, healthy immune system.”
Whether it be elderberry, zinc, vitamin D, or selenium, ingredients that offer that extra shield of protection are getting a boost in demand.
Amazon alone saw its immunity category grow tremendously, posting 165% growth rate from 2019 to 2020, resulting in $623 million in revenue in 2020.
Bruno, a certified nutritionist, registered herbalist and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences, said habits picked up during quarantine will have a lasting impact.
“Likewise, self-quarantine practices and other issues surrounding COVID-19 has resulted in increased levels of stress and difficulty in getting to sleep, which in turn have led to the rise in stress and sleep supplement sales. This rise is likely to continue unabated well into 2022 and beyond.”
Bruno added that ingredients that can address more than one of these trends are prime contenders to be included in products for this Spring.
Ingredients in focus
An Ayurvedic go-to for over 3,000 years, ashwagandha has been traditionally used to support various systems of the body including neurological, immune, energy production, endocrine and reproductive.
”These broad-ranging effects are a function of ashwagandha’s adaptogenic properties, which help the body to adapt by normalizing physiological processes in times of increased stress. In scientific literature, steroidal lactones known as withanolides have been discussed as important active compounds in ashwagandha, although other compounds are also present including alkaloids and saponins. Various human clinical studies have demonstrated that ashwagandha extract is capable of helping to reduce various parameters of stress. In addition, research has demonstrated that ashwagandha extract helped significantly reduce sleeplessness,” noted Bruno.
Currently, ashwagandha is ranked in the top 40 list among all the herbs in the marketplace. According to the American Botanical Council, Ashwagandha is ranked #7 in the natural channel and #34 in the mass market – a 166% jump from the previous year.
According to Google trends, global internet searches for Ashwagandha have doubled in the last two years, and nearly tripled when the search term peaked in June 2021.
Although this past year saw more searches for ashwagandha, probiotics are another highly searched term.
Whether it’s a the skin microbiome, the vaginal microbiome, or the gut-brain axis, these live microorganisms are another group of nutraceuticals that have demonstrated a broad range of functions that go well beyond digestive health.
“For example, probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum have been shown to influence select aspects of immune function. Such altered function can involve one or several components of an immune response. For example, humoral immune responses (i.e. antibody-mediated) at the mucosal level involve secretory immunoglobulin (sIgA), which mediates immune exclusion of foreign antigens by preventing binding to the epithelial cells and penetration of microorganisms,” said Bruno. “Animal and human research has demonstrated that probiotics such as L. acidophilus enhanced sIgA production in a dose-dependent manner. Animal research has also shown that probiotics increased the proliferation of splenocytes (any one of the different white blood cell types situated in the spleen). One of the most intriguing aspects of probiotic modulation of immune response is its effects on cytokine production. Cytokines are small proteins that are important in cell signaling, and their regulation of the immune system has been studied intensively. Several studies have shown that cytokine production by cells of the immune system can be altered by probiotic use, including the use of Bifidobacterium bifidum.”
Bruno added that aside from immune function, a blend of Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus longum has been clinically tested to improve sleep quality, a trend that the pandemic brought to the fore.
“There are many other benefits associated with probiotic organisms, and these are only scratching the surface,” he said.
“Probiotics don’t always play well with others, so combining them with other nutraceuticals can be challenging in terms of maintaining their stability. However, the use of microencapsulated probiotics and spore-forming probiotics can help mitigate these challenges.”
Whatever ingredients a formulation contains, Bruno said there is no one-size-fits-all rule for combining nutraceuticals.
“It’s really a function of each formulation goal. I would just say that it's best to avoid ingredient redundancy regarding mechanism of action. For example, if you’re formulating a product for mood, don’t just put in three different ingredients that all affect serotonin levels. Use one ingredient for serotonin, one for dopamine, etc.,” Bruno said.