Mango tree leaf extracts can deliver similar benefits to caffeine but without the drawbacks, explains Nektium’s Dr Miguel Florido
In today’s fast-paced world, consumers often need to enhance their cognitive performance and focus. Many rely on caffeine to increase both energy and mental acuity, but there are growing concerns about its health impacts.
The side-effects of caffeine can include anxiety, jitters and sudden energy crashes, as well as impacting heart rate and blood pressure.1–4
A 2023 Mintel report showed that 39% of global coffee drinkers say they are now actively trying to reduce their caffeine intake.5
The rise in adolescent energy drink consumption has also prompted significant unease, with a range of adverse reactions being attributed to excessive caffeine.6
However, a Euromonitor report in 2021 highlighted the so-called “Caffeine Paradox,” with consumption continuing to grow worldwide because consumer need for effective energy still outweighs the rising concerns about stress and anxiety.7
This highlights the vast opportunity for a natural alternative that can deliver the benefits of caffeine without the negative impacts.
In 2016, Nektium set out on a mission to find an all-natural mental and physical energy ingredient that could be used as an alternative to caffeine. We soon discovered the potential of the leaf of the mango tree (Mangifera indica).
Mango tree leaves are rich in the polyphenol, mangiferin, and other bioactives. They were described in ancient Ayurveda Sanskrit verses thousands of years ago as being beneficial in terms of treating digestive health issues such as stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting.
In modern times, research has shown that mangiferin has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, antidiabetic, lipolytic, anti-bone resorption and antimicrobial qualities.8
It has also now emerged that mangiferin can deliver natural stimulation in much the same way as caffeine. Both have an effect on the frontal cortex and hippocampus.
The frontal cortex is responsible for acquiring and processing information, controlling memory, planning and attention, whereas the hippocampus is responsible for mood.
Research published in Food and Nutrition Sciences in 2018 showed that mango tree leaf extracts can activate cranial electrical activity and increase long-term potentiation in a remarkably similar pattern to caffeine and with an equally fast action.9
Crucially, mango tree leaf extracts are better tolerated than caffeine, have no crash effect and do not cause side-effects such as jitters, racing pulse or anxiety.
Launched in 2018, Zynamite is Nektium’s patented, proprietary Mangifera indica extract —standardised to mangiferin — that has been developed from sustainably harvested mango leaves.
Research has demonstrated its ability to increase brain oxygenation, which improves the efficiency of brain cell functioning and supports neural activities.10
The aforementioned pilot study in Food and Nutrition Sciences used well-established animal models to show that the bioactive compounds in Zynamite clearly pass the blood-brain barrier to act on the central nervous system.
It highlighted the induction of long-term potentiation in a hippocampus slice preparation ex vivo after 1 week of daily administration. This long-term potentiation may involve the strengthening of synaptic connections between the neurons associated with learning and memory.
Research in Nutrients, meanwhile, showed that one dose of Zynamite is enough to significantly improve performance for at least 5 hours in a range of cognitive tasks.11
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study tested the effects of a single 300 mg dose of Zynamite on various cognitive functions. Participants performed more accurately on the tasks that measure concentration and memory … and they were better at performing each of the mentally demanding tasks than after the placebo.
Mango leaf extracts are also an inhibitor of catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT).12 Nektium’s scientific research unveiled mangiferin’s mechanism of action in this regard for the first time.
Mangiferin inhibits the COMT enzyme, which breaks down catecholamines. By inhibiting this enzyme, Zynamite raises the levels of dopamine — a neurotransmitter that reduces cravings and enhances the body’s detoxification response.
In 2022, we successfully concluded the first phase of securing patents for Zynamite in several primary markets. This intellectual property refers to its ability to improve alertness, concentration and memory.
In some countries, the patent includes additional effects, such as its use as an ingredient to enhance mood, reduce stress and as a replacement for caffeine.
Zynamite is also a highly adaptable ingredient that can be used in applications including tablets, capsules, powders, fizzy sticks, gummies and beverages. It has only a slight effect on the sensory profile of beverages and does not affect microbiological activity, pH and Brix levels.
In addition, several application trials are underway to ensure that Zynamite can be used in various types of functional food. Zynamite has already been used in diverse finished product innovations, including popular smart supplements and e-gaming formulations in Japan.
Recognising the fundamental importance of the mind in sports performance, we have also applied the caffeine-free and doping-free nootropic activities of Zynamite to active nutrition.
It has wide-ranging benefits for sports, which have been subjected to double-blind, randomised controlled clinical trials.
They show that, as well as reducing mental fatigue and improving reaction time, Zynamite improves peak power output and maximum oxygen intake during intense exercise (VO2 max) while reducing pain and helping athletes to recover faster after exhausting exercise.10,13,14
Most recently, a study in Nutrients examined the effects of Zynamite PX — which combines the ingredient with quercetin — on exercise performance and muscle adaptation.
It revealed that Zynamite PX triggers a biochemical response in skeletal muscle fibres at rest that is similar to that elicited by regular exercise. It also modifies signalling in muscle fibres during intense exercise, resulting in reduced activation of stress-sensing enzymes for improved muscle performance.15
Zynamite is a branded mango leaf extract that can provide a natural alternative to caffeine as well as support sporting performance and recovery. Since 2018, its benefits have been demonstrated in a total of ten clinical studies and it has won six global industry awards.
Natural, safe and clean-label friendly, Zynamite is a fast-acting and experiential ingredient that can give consumers the enhanced energy they need — without the drawbacks of caffeine.