Gerald Gregory readily admits that his career trajectory has been unusual – from government economist to health drink brand owner, via the nursing home business. His new ayurvedic energy drink brand Vedic Yogi is much more of a passion project. “About 18 months ago I’d got the nursing care business to a point where I was able to free up some time and do something I’d like to do, and feel naturally involved in.”
Gregory’s own immersion in vedic culture and yoga, and a deepening knowledge of ayurvedic herbal traditions set the broad course. But it was when he spotted a gap in the crowded UK energy drinks market that Vedic Yogi – product, philosophy and brand – was born.
Gregory comments: “Many of the herbs advocated in the scriptures are now being substantiated by scientific evidence. There’s a growing and reasonable evidence basis for their efficacy. And energetic properties are one of the most consistent features of many of the ayurvedic super herbs.”
Harnessing the energy giving properties of these ‘super herbs’ in a convenient grab-and-go drink format was the challenge Gregory set himself. “The desire for enhancement, both as an aid for sports activities and in other areas of our lives – performing well at work, for example – is clearly there. And I think now there is parallel desire for enhancement to come from natural ingredients – and to avoid caffeine and other unhealthy stimulants.”
Working with with a genome biologist at the University of Cambridge and a well-regarded ayurveda practitioner, Gregory developed an all-natural formula based around two very well studied herbs –ashwagandha and turmeric – which he says offers a wide spectrum of benefits. “So, the drink contains herbs at a dose that increases energy, but also sharpens mental alertness and focus, and can also help with stress relief by lowering cortisol levels.”
“Many of the herbs advocated in the scriptures are now being substantiated by scientific evidence. There’s a growing and reasonable evidence basis for their efficacy”
Being able to deliver an effective dose required using high quality, standardized ingredients, says Gregory. And being part of a drink, the herbs are more bio-available than they would be in pill form, he says.
Lemon juice and a natural sweetener (from stevia leaf) balance the natural bitterness of the ashwagandha, to create a pleasant and distinctive taste. But the slight bitter undertone actually serves a functional role. “The brain identifies bitter substances as a potential threat, so primes the liver to swing into action – that means that the beneficial effects of the herbs in Vedic Yogi are felt quickly”.
Gregory says that Vedic Yogi’s branding is designed to be “clear about the culture it comes from” but also to resonate with healthy lifestylers and gym goers. Priced at £1.95 (retail) for a 250ml serving, this distinctive new entrant to the healthy energy drinks category has been received well by local health food independents, and now Gregory has his sights set on the “Planet Organic and Whole Foods arena”. The product has just gained a listing from leading natural products wholesaler The Health Store.
Confident that Vedic Yogi’s ‘super herbs’ pack an impressive botanical punch out of the bottle, Gregory now hopes to show they can do the same in a specialist retail setting.
• Find out more about Vedi Yogi at www.vedicyogi.org