Skip to main content
Lasque Tiarc

Do ‘functional drinks’ work? Here’s what science says about these health drinks

Vaseline 2 months ago

Nootropics, also known as ‘smart drugs’, are substances that can improve human thinking, learning and memory. Among the most common nootropics are caffeine, L-theanine (an amino acid found in tea), creatine (an amino acid found naturally in meat and fish), Bacopa monnieri (an herb), Gingko biloba (a tree), and lion’s mane ( a mushroom). Some adaptogens may also have nootropic properties, such as ashwagandha.

What does science say?

In a study last year in the journal PlantsResearchers said most plant-based nootropics are not immediately effective after a single dose and must be taken over an extended period of time before measurable improvement occurs. One problem in researching these natural substances was standardizing the form in which they were taken and the dosage, the study said. Side effects are rare and usually mild, but users should consider their overall health and whether nootropics may affect other medications before taking them.

A plant-based shake from Remedy Organics with prebiotics, lion’s mane and other ingredients. AP

Probiotics and prebiotics

What are they?

Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live microorganisms intended to maintain or improve the “good” bacteria in a person’s intestines or other parts of the body. They occur naturally in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, kombucha and sauerkraut. Prebiotics are food for the bacteria and other organisms that live in the intestines. Prebiotics are found in whole grains, bananas, vegetables, onions, garlic, soybeans and artichokes.

What does science say?

The Cleveland Clinic says that in theory, probiotics work with the beneficial microbes in the human body to fight harmful bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Researchers know that unhealthy microbiomes can contribute to chronic diseases like irritable bowel syndrome. They can also affect mood, pain tolerance and fatigue. The Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic say there is a lot of active research being done on the microbiome and the impact of probiotics and prebiotics, but not enough evidence to draw solid conclusions about their effectiveness. Side effects are rare, except in people with weak immune systems, whose bodies may be unable to fight off a probiotic that inadvertently contains harmful microbes.


What is it?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is an active ingredient in cannabis. It is one of hundreds of components in marijuana, but CBD itself does not cause a high. CBD is used to treat epilepsy and can also help relieve anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain and addiction. Side effects may include nausea, fatigue and irritability.

What does science say?

In an article published this month, Harvard Medical School said CBD appears to be a useful, relatively non-toxic option for managing anxiety and other problems. But it said more research was needed to determine effective doses.