Relaxation in a can?

For Santa Monica College student Eduardo Lovo, tiresome and stress-filled days come as no surprise. Whether he is stuck in traffic, running late for class, cramming for finals, or finishing papers, being a college student exhausts him. Rockstar has recently released a new guava-flavored product called Relax that is meant to help individuals like Lovo unwind after a long, hard day. Contrary to energy drinks that induce caffeine highs, Rockstar Relax is a zero-calorie, sugar-free and caffeine-free drink designed to deliver a dose of relaxation.

“I would maybe use it for one of those days when I want to stay home resting, and get a good night’s sleep,” says Lovo, who typically prefers to drink coffee or tea over energy drinks like Rockstar.

Rockstar’s website states that the product contains ingredients such as chamomile, passionflower extract and L-theanine, which all reportedly have calming effects.

Despite the natural ingredients, Deborah Novak, SMC nutrition professor and registered dietitian, does not recommend consuming these beverages.

“These kinds of drinks contain added nutrients that most people don’t really need,” she says. “There are no real nutritional advantages.”

Rockstar Relax comes with a warning label that states that it may cause drowsiness, and that individuals should avoid driving and operating heavy machinery when consuming the drink.

Rockstar Relax is not the only anti-energy drink on the market. Neuro Sleep contains melatonin and comes with the same warning label. Blue Cow contains some of the same ingredients as Rockstar’s product, but allegedly does not cause the drowsy side effects.

According to the health information search site WebMD, the chemicals that are found in passionflower have “calming, sleep-inducing and muscle spasm relieving effects.” L-theanine, which occurs naturally in green tea, reportedly has a similar calming effect, and is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and high blood pressure.

However, overconsumption of any of these ingredients, especially passionflower, can make a person drowsy, which is why consumers are informed about the effects.

Carole McCaskill, a nursing professor at SMC, believes that the product is relatively safe and does not pose any real health threat. However, she does advise against using it while performing any activity involving concentration.

“I think that driving, or doing anything that requires concentration, might be dangerous if one gets too relaxed,” she says. “It sounds like a very mild tranquilizer to me.”

“I’d only use it when I’m staying at home,” says Lovo. “I don’t want to fall asleep in my car, or in class, where I don’t even need it.”

Though anti-energy drinks appear to be safe, Novak recommends using natural methods of relaxation.

“If you need something to relax, dim the lights, put on some soft music, turn off your computer and phone, and drink chamomile tea,” says Novak. “It is all-natural, has antioxidants and is calorie-free.”