Ayurvedic workhorses poised for market breakthrough, expert predicts

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ayurveda Mark blumenthal

If you are looking for what’s hot on the botanical front in 2013, here’s the skinny from a longtime observer of the herbal arena: Open your lesson book to the first two pages, and follow after me: A is for Ayurveda and ashwagandha and B is for bacopa.

Thus spake Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, in a conversation with NutraIngredients-USA. 

“I think there are some botanicals from India that are going to reach a higher level of market acceptance in 2013,”​ Blumenthal said. “The two that come to mind are ashwagandha and bacopa.”

A is also for adaptogen

Ashwagandha has been marketed as an adaptogen, helping the body to better deal with life’s daily insults. The ingredient, extracted from the root of a forest plant, has been used in the Ayurvedic tradition for promotion of general health, as a support in cases of stress and fatigue, and as an aid in sexual health.

On the ashwagandha front, Ixoreal Biomed has been making a push in the market with its KSM-66 ingredient, which it has been developing for more than 10 years. The Indian company announced self-affirmed GRAS status for the ingredient in the fall of 2012. Like other ashwangandha extracts, KSM-66 is extracted from the root of Withania somnifera​.  Ixoreal says its proprietary extraction process, which uses water in place of other solvents, yields a pure ingredient with a high amount of bioactives, called withanolides, and also reduces the extract’s bitter taste notes.  The new regulatory statues combined with a favorable flavor profile means the ingredient will shortly be showing up in a variety of products including cerals, cereal bars, candies, cookies and type I beverages.

Ixoreal’s ashwagandha competitors haven’t been standing still, though. In October, NutraGenesis, a Brattleboro, Vt.-based ingredient supplier with a history of experience with Ayurvedic ingredients, obtained a U.S. patent in the area of women’s health for an ashwagandha/Indian gooseberry combination called Sendara. The combination pairs two longtime ingredients in the NutraGenesis stable; Sensoril, a branded, multi-patented ashwagandha extract and Capros, a branded form of Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, both of which has self-affirmed GRAS status. The patent covers other combinations of these two components for this use, not just the branded pair. The new pairing will offer unique benefits, according to Tiea Zehnbauer, vice president of sales at NutraGenesis.

“We have it positioned as an anti-aging, beauty-from-within product and we also have it positioned as an overall women’s wellness product,”​ Zehnbauer told NutraIngredients-USA.

Bacopa, an extract of Bacopa monnieri​, a wetlands plant native to south Asia, has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic system of medicine to enhance cognitive function and boost memory. PL Thomas, which markets a bacopa ingredient branded as Bacopa55, said human studies have shown the ingredient “significantly” promotes memory and enhances learning.

Poised to harvest demographic windfall

Both of these ingredients are poised to benefit from ongoing demographic trends in the US, Blumenthal said.

“They both speak to some of that aging baby boomer market.  I just think the timing is good,”​ he said.

“I think there is good research (backing the ingredients) and the marketing is based on the research.”

Compounds that come out of  the Ayurvedic tradition have lagged behind ingredients that come out of Traditional Chinese Medicine for a variety of reasons, Blumenthal said.  It’s not because these ingredients are somehow less effective, but rather, because there is greater institutional support for TCM among certain practitioners.

“I think the Ayurvedic herbs have lagged behind the TCM herbs in this country because you have a higher number of practitioners, such as acupuncturists, that use TCM in their practices,”​ Blumenthal said.

You don’t have schools of Ayurvedic medicine in this county like you do for acupuncture, graduating more than 1,000 new acupuncturitsts per year.”

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