Like liquid chill pills, these beverages promise to make you mellower in just a few sips. Three O staffers drank them for two weeks to see if they lived up to the hype.
For our testers, the three drinks seemed to lead to greater serenity, but one question remained on everyone's minds: Are they safe? Compared with anxiety and sleep medications, which go through rigorous clinical trials, these beverages are loosely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. They can pack as much sugar as a can of soda (Koma has a whopping 46.5 grams!) while offering such small amounts of their herbal ingredients that you're unlikely to feel a lasting effect, says Sylvie Stacy, MD, a resident in preventive medicine at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who has reviewed the safety and efficacy of these kinds of drinks.
"The placebo effect likely plays a role in making you feel relaxed," she says. "It's instinctive to want to use something that seems to work so quickly and effortlessly, but, while consuming one of these calm-down drinks every once in a while likely won't do you any harm, be careful about relying on them too much." Bottom line: If you're constantly resorting to a quick fix to sleep or relax, you should consult a doctor to pinpoint the root of the problem.