From lemon balm to calm: Indena's Relissa wins cognitive health award

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags lemon balm Sleep Cognitive health Indena

Indena took home the NutraIngredients Cognitive Health Ingredient of the Year award for its lemon balm extract formulated to support mental and emotional health.

Relissa was developed to meet the growing consumer demand for non-melatonin sleep products. The ingredient harnesses the recognized properties of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis​), using Indena Phytosome technology to create a delivery system designed to enhance the power of phytonutrients.

"Overcoming the negative factors associated with stress and sleep is such an essential part of effective cognitive function," said this year's expert panel of judges for the category. "The ingredient selected to achieve this is supported with the right data to provide consumers with confidence."

On winning the award, Elisabetta Frattini, senior research scientist at Indena, told NutraIngredients: “The award is significant as it acknowledges the excellent work and results achieved by the scientific team from Indena.”

Frattini added that it highlights that working collaboratively in science and approaching nature with scientific rigor and quality can lead to tangible, successful outcomes.


Lemon balm leaves are well recognized as a traditional sleep aid​, mostly due to hydroxycinnamic and rosmarinic acids and their derivatives.

Relissa was designed to use high quantities of hydroxycinnamic and rosmarinic acid, standardized through Indena’s Phytosome technology. This technology creates phospholipidic molecules to allow better dispersion in gastrointestinal fluids and enhance the ingredient’s bioaccessibility profile. The aim is that the active ingredients contained in Mellissa officinalis​ offer better biological performances while maintaining their natural profile.

Relissa has been found to contribute to beneficial effects on mental and sleep health in adults with mild sleep problems associated with depression, anxiety and stress. One double-blind randomized clinical study​ found improvements in sleep and mental wellness in adults after three weeks of Relissa supplementation.

The ingredient has also been tested to confirm it has no negative interactions with the microbiome as it is becoming increasingly recognized that gut health can influence mood and sleep. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus, ​a beneficial bacteria naturally found in the gut, has been proven able to improve night rest and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep​, and according to Frattini, Relissa has shown no negative interactions with Lactobacillus rhamnosus​, thus safeguarding its beneficial effect.

Improving sleep 

Improving sleep is key to addressing the symptoms of living in a fragmented society, Frattini said, adding that "quality sleep leads to better daily functioning, and vice versa. By prioritizing sleep, emotional well-being can be significantly improved."

Research has shown that sleep quality is the most important factor when it comes to improved quality of life. In a recent study​ conducted with 4,253 participants, results showed that while sleep duration and timing are contributing factors, improved quality of sleep has the biggest correlation with improved quality of life. 

"We are living in a society where brain health is a concern for people of all ages, for kids who are facing the scholastic challenges, for adults because we live very demanding everyday lives, and for elderly people who are facing the normal aging process," Frattini said. "So it's really important to have a natural and safe ingredient that can support sleep quality and therefore emotional health."

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