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Creating Flavours with desirable ‘Health Halos’

By Uday Naik.

Consumers today want their food tasting great while aligning with nutrition trends like clean label, natural, organic, and delivering unique and valuable functional benefits. That's a tall order, but thankfully there are some natural flavouring ingredients to solve the challenge and meet consumer’s demand. Flavourists need to know what's the most important to your customer, understanding the benefits of natural ingredients you're considering while creating flavours, and ultimately combining those ingredients to meet your customers' needs with a profitable, market-winning product.

As per the Codex guidelines, natural flavouring complexes (CAC/GL 66-2008 item 2.2.2) are preparations that contain flavouring substances obtained by physical processes that may result in unavoidable but unintentional changes in the chemical structure of the flavouring or by enzymatic or microbiological processes, from material of plant or animal origin. Natural flavouring substances (CAC/GL 66-2008 item are flavouring substances obtained by physical processes that may result in unavoidable but unintentional changes in the chemical structure of the components of the flavouring or by enzymatic or microbiological processes, from material of plant or animal origin. Many essential oils and their components are widely used as natural flavouring complexes and natural flavouring substances in flavour industry.

Consumers are increasingly aware of natural essential oils due to their purported health effects. With the rise in consumer awareness of essential oils and the perceived benefits associated with them, natural and organic flavours are being created to cater to this consumer demand. Rising concerns of people over health issues is fuelling the growth of food and beverages with clean label, natural and organic claim, and with functional benefits.

This article describes the biological activities and purported health benefits of some essential oils and their potential use in creating flavours with desirable ‘health halos’. Please note that the authors are flavour chemists and not health professionals. We cannot verify the health properties. Make claims only after consulting with your regulatory and health authorities.

Lavender Flavour: People usually associate lavender with two specific traits: its fragrance and its colour. But you may not know that the lavender flower and the oil derived from it have long histories in herbal medicine. While ingesting lavender oil on its own is not recommended, lavender-infused capsules are often used in the treatment of anxiety. In small amounts such as in capsule form, lavender oil is considered safe to ingest. Lavender has a long history of traditional use and its essential oil was found to possess a wide range of biological effects. Evidence of the effectiveness of the lavender essential oil in the pharmacotherapy of mental disorders led to the development of Silexan, which is a standardized essential oil of L. angustifolia flowers prepared by steam distillation. Silexan is approved in Germany for the treatment of restlessness related to anxiety. Studies were performed to estimate significance of the anxiolytic effect of lavender essential oil taken as silexan capsules versus other capsules such as placebo, paroxetine, lorazepam etc. Anxiolytic effect of lavender was superior to placebo in many patients suffering from anxiety disorder. In addition, lavender improved associated symptoms such as restlessness, disturbed sleep, and somatic complaints and had a beneficial influence on general well-being and quality of life. Lavender is useful to reduce dysmenorrhea. Dysmenorrhea is the pain or cramps during or before a menstrual period. In Ayurveda, this condition is known as Kasht-aartava. Aartava or Menstruation is controlled and governed by Vata dosha. So it is important that in a woman, Vata should be under control to manage dysmenorrhea. Lavender has Vata balancing property and gives relief in dysmenorrhea. Drinking Lavender tea helps control aggravated Vata and reduces abdominal pain and cramps during menstruation. All these studies suggest that lavender oil could be used as an effective adjuvant therapy for anxiety, depression, restlessness, dysmenorrhea etc. Considering these findings, natural lavender flavouring could be a great way to flavour food products with desirable health halos. Lavender flavour created by using natural lavender oil can be used in various food products such as teas, beverages, muffins, candies, honey, health supplements etc.

Chamomile Flavour: The flowers of chamomile contain 1–2% volatile essential oil including alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides, and matricin which is usually converted to chamazulene and other flavonoids possessing anti-inflammatory and antiphlogistic properties. Chamomile in the form of an aqueous extract has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems. Chamomile has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhoea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. Chamomile has also been used to treat colic, croup, and fevers in children. It has been used as an emmenagogue and a uterine tonic in women. Flavourings can be created with chamomile oil and can be effectively used to flavour teas, beverages and other food products with functional benefits.

Peppermint Flavours: Peppermint has a long history of medicinal use, dating to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome where they were used as stomach soothers. It is a well-known natural herb, which grows in most countries with different climates. Peppermint oil is used for treating certain stomach disorders like indigestion, gas problem, acidity, etc. It is the main ingredient of ayurvedic medicines like ‘Pudin Hara’. The oil is a natural source of menthol, which is the main ingredient of cough drops, syrups etc. The capsules infused with peppermint oil were found beneficial in reducing total procedure time, reducing colonic spasm, increasing endoscopist satisfaction and decreasing pain in patients during colonoscopy. It is often used in paediatric patients for treating abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and symptomatic relief of coughs and colds. Peppermint oil contains over 40 distinct chemical compounds (including menthol, menthone, and menthyl acetate) and its consumption safety was proven in toxicological investigations. Peppermint possesses a broad range of biological activities including digestive, choleretic, carminative, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, antispasmodic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, myorelaxant, expectorant, analgesic, tonic, and vasodilator. It appears that peppermint oil may have several mechanisms of action including smooth muscle relaxation (via calcium channel blockade or direct enteric nervous system effects); visceral sensitivity modulation (via transient receptor potential cation channels); anti-microbial effects; anti-inflammatory activity; modulation of psychosocial distress. In the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date, Peppermint oil has shown to be a safe and effective therapy for pain and global symptoms in adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint oil is relatively rapidly absorbed after oral administration and eliminated mainly via the bile. Peppermint flavours are being used in cookies, cakes, muffins, sweets, candies, chocolates, toothpaste, oral care, pharma syrups, flavoured milk, beverages, savoury and many other applications.

Many other essential oils like ginger oil, fenugreek oil, turmeric oil, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, cardamom oil, nutmeg oil, rose geranium oil, lemon oil, lime oil, bergamot oil, orange oil, buchu leaf oil, spearmint oil, coriander oil, juniper berry oil, cinnamon oil etc have entered the consumer conscious for several reasons. Consumers want to take charge of their own health by supplementing their diet with botanicals imparting perceived health benefits. Considering this, a lot of flavours can be created with desirable health halos and applied effectively in many food and beverage products.


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H G Grigoleit , P Grigoleit, Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil, Phytomedicine, 2005 Aug.

N Alammar, L Wang, B Saberi, J Nanavati , G Holtmann, R T Shinohara, G E Mullin.

The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019 Jan 17; 19(1):21. doi: 10.1186/s12906-018-2409-0.

The author is CEO at Aromax Creation.

He can be reached at

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