Any time a company approaches me with a natural sleep product, I’m doubtful. I didn’t enter the world a skeptical person, but I’ve been on the planet long enough to see the word used out of context when describing some pretty unnatural things. Unfortunately, in marketing the word natural has become synonymous with perfectly healthy to consume, and it’s troubling.
SO, HOW NATURAL IS IT?
When I heard about Zenbev, a sleep-promoting drink mix that’s advertised as being organic, vegan, and most of all natural, my first thought was, We’ll see.
Zenbev can be taken at night or during the day. Before bed, Zenbev promotes relaxation and restful sleep by stimulating melatonin production in your body. Zenbev also works with your body’s amazingness to create serotonin, which is the happy, calming hormone. Taken day or night, serotonin can help regulate your mood and relieve stress.
So, Zenbev helps with restful sleep and anxiety. But what kind of voodoo magic are we talking about here? Is it really the natural product it claims to be?
Let’s look at the ingredients: Pumpkin seed flour, rice starch, dextrose, and guar gum. All ingredients made from naturally grown sources. So far, so good. Rice starch is used in the food industry for its gelling properties. Dextrose is a simple sugar made from corn, used in food as a sweetener. Guar gum is made from legumes and is used as a binder. That leaves one last main ingredient, pumpkin seeds. Let’s investigate.
Pumpkin seeds are a source of tryptophan, an amino acid found in several foods that are high in protein, such as nuts and seeds, soy products, spinach, poultry, and salmon. Tryptophan increases natural serotonin levels in the body, and serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep. Tryptophan is also responsible for the family nap time in front of the football game after every Thanksgiving turkey dinner, so most of us are no stranger to tryptophan's charms, even if this is the first time we’re hearing about it. The pumpkin seeds in Zenbev have been cold pressed to remove the oil and ground to a flour, so Zenbev is a powder which with blends well in liquid, much like protein powder.
Fortunately for us, Zenbev gets its tryptophan from pumpkin seeds and not salmon. I don’t imagine ground salmon tastes amazing in almond milk. Although I guess I'm willing to try almost anything once.
Zenbev comes in two flavours - chocolate and lemon. Using a shaker bottle gave me the best results, and the first time I tried it, I admit I waited for it to taste weird. Or nutty, at least. It didn’t. It was good! I didn’t have to brace myself or plug my nose while I drank it, and there was no unpleasant after taste. (Full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of lemon flavoured foods, so I didn’t consume the lemon Zenbev as often as the chocolate, but I did find it flavourful and enjoyed it in kefir and yogurt.)
HOW ZENBEV CAN HELP YOU
Studies have shown that tryptophan can improve sleep in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, which is good news for me. I was recently diagnosed with mild sleep apnea, so I have one more reason to love this drink. I’m not one to depend on a product nightly to sleep, but it’s such a relief to know I can use Zenbev as a safe and natural assistant during times when my brain is unusually busy or my stress levels are high.
The first time I tried Zenbev I mixed one scoop in coconut milk. Nothing happened instantly, but I never felt like I was taking something for my sleep. I had no side effects, and just a few nights later, I noticed my mind was less busy and I was falling asleep faster. As someone who still occasionally struggles to overcome insomnia symptoms, I am happy when I can inhabit my bed without the addition of racing thoughts and anxiety. There was no hungover or groggy feeling in the morning with Zenbev, which is common with sleeping pills and some supplements, and I can stop taking Zenbev for a few nights without missing out on its benefits. It is suggested that Zenbev is taken for 5-7 days then stopped for 2-3 days.
It’s certainly refreshing to find out a product does what it promises, and I’ll be adding ZenBev to my list of natural sleep aids I believe in and promote regularly. This in one case where the word natural really does mean natural.