Are popular 'relaxation drinks' safe for your kids?
HOUSTON They're called "anti-energy drinks" or "relaxation drinks," and they're sold in convenience stores. What's in them? Are they safe? This is something parents should know about, because chances are your teenagers already know about the drinks. What's a relaxation drink? Parents, you may want to ask your kids. "They take it and they're just like 'oh they make you feel good I'm relaxed, I'm chilling, I'm leaning or whatever," Damien, a student, said. The beverages are marketed with slogans that promote relaxing, unwinding and slowing down. "Some people don't like going to school; they just take this so they can just crash in the middle of class," another student named Henry said. Dr. Ron Peters is a public health expert who works with recovering addicts, like these teens. He strongly believes the drinks may lead some teens to try a dangerous homemade concoction called Purple Drank, a potentially dangerous mixture of prescription cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine mixed with soda and candy. "This could be used actually as a gateway to drugs," Dr. Peters said. Peter Bianchi is the creator of the over-the-counter beverage Drank. He is known as the founder of the relaxation drink industry. Bianchi admits his drinks are marketed to teens, but he stresses that his purple drinks are actually a safe alternative to drugs and alcohol. "The product was designed to be a healthy alternative from reaching into the liquor cabinet to grab a bottle of Jack Daniels or to your medicine cabinet to get your sleep aids or your anti-anxiety medicine," Bianchi said. Many relaxation drinks contain stuff found at vitamin stores like valerian root, rose hips, kava, and melatonin. Studies are mixed about the long-term use of some of these ingredients. However, the FDA sent this letter to Bianchi last year, warning melatonin is an unapproved food additive-now drank is sold as a dietary supplement rather than a beverage. Still, there are fans, including acupuncturist Tom Ingengno, who even recommends anti-energy drinks to his clients. "It's really impressive to see something take the edge off help you sleep, help you relax and still wake up the next morning and not feel groggy; it's not like taking a medication," Ingengno said. There is some concern about people taking energy drinks for a boost and then anti-energy drinks to slow down. Some of the anti-energy drinks include warnings about driving after drinking them. What do the makers of the drinks say about the possible health effects of the drinks? They say if you have any questions or concerns before you use a relaxation drink talk to your doctor. Experts say talk to your kids to and, find out if they are drinking the anti-energy beverages.