Strong sales growth and promising research make boswellia and turmeric two of the most promising Ayurvedic herbs to watch this year.
With their millennia-old roots in Eastern medicine, Ayurvedic herbs bring to many consumers the kind of wholesome, health and wellness image that brands might otherwise spend decades cultivating. Two of those Ayurvedic herbs in particular-boswellia (Boswellia serrata) and turmeric (Curcuma longa)-are in especially strong positions that have us excited to see where they’ll go next.
To start with, boswellia is outpacing most other joint-health ingredients in terms of its percent sales growth. While glucosamine and chondroitin remain heavy hitters in joint health, both saw sales decline last year,1 according to SPINS. Glucosamine sales declined by 15.3% last year to reach $109.6 million, while glucosamine/chondroitin combination sales declined by 12.3% to reach $345 million. Boswellia, however, saw joint-health sales grow by 132.2% over the same period to reach more than $14 million.
Part of boswellia’s rise may be due to consumers looking for joint-health alternatives to glucosamine and chondroitin, suggests Kim Kawa, senior nutrition researcher for SPINS. Boswellia ingredients have also continued to shine in recent joint-health studies. For instance, Sabinsa’s (East Windsor, NJ) Boswellin Super boswellia extract was found to alleviate knee pain in healthy Japanese adults in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in November.2
What’s more, boswellia suppliers are working to make the ingredient suitable for more product types than ever before. PLT Health Solutions (Morristown, NJ) recently released its water-soluble AquaLox, a boswellia extract the company says is free of the harsh taste that may have prevented the ingredient from entering gummies, stick packs, shots, and other applications in the past.
Boswellia may also be benefiting from recent research exploring its potential synergistic effects when used in combination with turmeric. For instance, a study3 published in late 2015 found that a joint-health supplement containing both turmeric and boswellia may help alleviate short-term pain associated with surgery to repair torn rotator cuffs. Researchers found that participants who took the supplement for three weeks before arthroscopic supraspinatus tendon repair surgery and five weeks after surgery experienced significantly lower overall pain scores at one week after the operation, compared to placebo.
Speaking of turmeric, the ongoing superstar continues to post stellar sales numbers. SPINS reports that sales of the ingredient are up in all health focuses, with total sales climbing by 45.3% over the past year to reach $72 million. And while joint health and inflammation remain especially strong categories for turmeric, some of its most remarkable growth falls in other health areas. That includes triple-digit percent growth in products marketed for immune health, mood support, and cold and flu.
In addition, manufacturers are finding new ways to reach consumers with delivery systems for turmeric, especially in beverages. SPINS reports that teas with turmeric are up 160% over the last year, and bagged herbal teas featuring turmeric are up 204%. Shelf-stable juices and turmeric-enhanced beverages in the refrigerated juices/functional beverage category also showed solid sales increases this year, growing by 110% and 49%, respectively.
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1. Sales numbers are courtesy of SPINS and cover the 52 weeks ending October 30, 2016. Statistics are derived from a cross-channel aggregate data pull of multi-outlet, natural, and specialty-gourmet retailers of the total U.S. market, unless otherwise specified.
2. Majeed M et al., “Effect of Boswellin Super on knee pain in Japanese adults: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial,” European Journal of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, vol. 3, no. 10 (November 2016): 293–298
3. Merolla G et al., “Co-analgesic therapy for arthroscopic supraspinatus tendon repair pain using a dietary supplement containing Boswellia serrata and Curcuma longa: a prospective randomized placebo-controlled study,” Musculoskeletal Surgery, vol. 99, suppl. 1 (September 2015): S43–S52