Ginseng & Women's Health - Market Focus

The Nutraceutical market is currently experiencing a boom in the offer focused on women’s health, a target that shows particular interest in natural health solutions. Indeed, numerous brands now offer entire product ranges geared towards women’s needs – from urinary comfort to perinatal support, including the alleviation of menopausal or PMS – and product developments in this sphere are multiplying at great speed.

In this first article of BOTALYS’ new series of blog posts on Ginseng & Women’s Health, we will explore the existing needs, trends and offer of this market to highlight the great potential of botanicals for future research and NPDs.

At BOTALYS, we believe ginseng has not revealed all its secrets and could hold tremendous potential for the development of therapeutic solutions for a variety of women specific health applications.

Could ginseng become the next flagship ingredient to address the growing female well-being market in a natural, efficient and non-hormonal manner ? Stay tuned for the following pieces of this series: 2 in-depth bibliographic reviews on the demonstrated benefits of ginseng on menopause and endometriosis.

1. THE WOMEN’S HEALTH MARKET

It is important to mention that this article is focused on women specific health issues only, excluding a large section of beauty-related segments such as skin (anti-aging), hair and nails health as well as weight management applications. The nutricosmetics market will be the subject of a separate article in the future.

1.1. Needs & Expectations

Women are a target of choice for the dietary supplements sector. Studies and surveys not only show that they are more invested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle but also that they are more proactive in looking for natural plant-extracted alternatives to preserve their health and well-being. In addition, the nutraceutical sector seems to be riding the wave of women’s ever-increasing longevity and disposable income to empower them to adopt a mindful and preventive nutritional approach to their health, throughout all the stages of their lives.

In terms of benefits, studies show women’s needs revolve around 3 major challenges: having their nutritional needs met, maintaining hormonal balance and supporting healthy mood and energy levels. These 3 therapeutic targets clearly echo modern women’s challenges, but many other segments are addressing their consequent conditions of particularly high prevalence in women – like osteoarthritis, infertility, or chronic stress.

Although their nutritional needs change throughout their lives, women’s major concerns / drivers when buying a dietary supplement remain the same: the effectiveness of the product and its natural (plant) origin. This is not surprising as women are scrupulous readers of labels and ingredient lists. They show increased concerned about the products safety and naturalness, its scientifically backed efficacy, and the sustainability / environmental aspects of its supply, all of which constitute important purchasing arguments.

1.2. Market Size

The market value of Beauty and Health Dietary Supplements for women was valued at nearly €50 billion in 2021. By 2028, this category is expected to reach €68,5 billion, with an expected annual growth rate of 4,7% [1].

In 2019, Global Women’s Health Market accounted for 26% (€28,8 billion) of the €111 billion global dietary supplements sector  [2].

The APAC region is the leading segment of this market, both in terms of size and growth, and amounted to 38,9% of the global market in 2020 [3]. However, it is important to note that the Asian women’s supplement market is strongly focused on beauty and prevention of aging more than intrinsic health.

In the US alone, where 79% of adult women take dietary supplements [4]. The market of feminine beauty and health supplements was estimated to € 16,5 billion in 2021, i.e. 26,2% of the global market, and expected to grow at a 4,3% rate between 2021 and 2028 [3].

In 2020 alone, the French women’s health sector reached an annual turnover of over € 51 million (3.27% of the national nutraceutical market share), i.e. a growth of 7.9% compared to the previous year [5].

2. MARKET TRENDS IN WOMEN’S HEALTH

Women’s health and well-being is back at the heart of new products developments.

The nutraceutical market for women has seen significant diversification over the past 10 years. Although prenatal vitamins, menopause products and weight management products remain important categories, they are now giving way to a broader offer of more specialized, personalized and medicalized applications.

Despite the significant diversification of the sector, vitamins remain the major segment in products targeting women’s health and well-being, representing 37% of revenues in 2020 [6]. Indeed, a large number of applications aim to fill common nutritional deficiencies in women, such as iron or potassium, as well as those that may occur more specifically at key stages in a woman’s life, such as folate during pregnancy or calcium in the peri-menopausal period.

Last but not least, innovative and food inspired galenic forms are also gaining popularity amongst female dietary supplement consumers. Despite the notable deceleration of fortified foods or meal replacements intended for weight loss, edible formats are still going strong in sports nutrition (shakes, bars). In addition, playful formats such as gummies, popularized by the beauty and hair health segments, are becoming commonplace in women’s food supplements.

2.1. PERSONALIZATION – nutritional support through every stage of life

Personalization is undoubtedly the major underlying need behind the growing trend and demand for feminine products. Indeed, women are subject to significant hormonal variations during their lifetime – which can occur at very different stages and paces from one individual to another.

Not only do these changes considerably modify women’s nutritional needs, but they also carry a variety of potential symptoms. In some cases, these changes also increase the risk of developing hormone-dependent conditions such as osteoporosis, type II diabetes or certain types of cancer.

To address this, an increasing number of brands now develop entire ranges of women targeted products to offer them adapted nutritional support through every stage of their life, from menstruation to pregnancy, to lactation and menopause.

Of course, the market of feminine health is no stranger to the underlying trend of Healthy Aging, as women have higher and ever-increasing life expectancies.  The desire of women to live longer, healthier and more active lives drives the demand for age-preventing feminine supplements, and not only from a cosmetic perspective.

Indeed, the categories that protect mental and physical capacities against age-related decline are also progressing rapidly. The segment of mental acuity for example, has shown an astonishing 800% increase between 2018 and 2020, the largest percentage increase observed in women’s health product launches in that period [7].

2.2. EMPOWERMENT – breaking taboos around feminine health

The market is greatly inspired by the current context of women’s empowerment and the consequent breaking of taboos surrounding women’s health and sexuality. As a consequence, new product launches are gradually starting to address under-exploited dietary supplement categories like libido, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), vaginal health, or even female incontinence.

Some female-specific medical conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or infertility are also starting to have therapeutic answers in the dietary supplements sector. However, the lack of scientific data does not generally allow to fully support the effectiveness of the used active ingredients.

In addition, the current boom in women’s health research is contributing to increasing awareness and knowledge of feminine conditions such as endometriosis and thus paving the way for the development of efficient science-backed and natural-based solutions.

Another significant societal shift is contributing to reshape the women’s health market: the evolution of perceived body type ideals. The skinny physique diktat is gradually shifting towards the embrace of women’s diversity of body types and creating a broader perception of what healthy, active and strong bodies looks like. Indeed, the traditionally feminine (and unscientific) categories of weight loss (fat-burners, laxatives) and detox products are giving way to a female optimized nutrition approach for active lifestyles, sports practice, and muscle mass gain – the latter being driven by a massive increase in protein supplements consumption.

2.3. PROBIOTICS – far beyond gut health

Probiotics are also an important segment in women’s health, although its slower growth shows the market is reaching maturity. Driven by the cross-cutting trend of the microbiota, many female probiotics – specific to age, feminine health conditions and different stages of a woman’s life – have emerged in recent years. They present an interesting opportunity to broaden the potential uses of microorganisms for applications particularly in demand by the female market, such as vaginal health or skin health.

A company worthy of mention in this area would be InVivo Healthcare, a UK-based company focused on host-microbiome ecosystem diagnosis and therapy, which has specifically developed a range of microbiotic supplements for women. The company offers solutions of multi-target live bacteria to support the intestinal as well as urinary and vaginal (L. crispatus) microbiota, as well as a proprietary strain of S. cerevisiae yeasts against Candida (C. albicans) proliferation.

French dietary supplements laboratory Hollis is also betting on probiotic / botanical synergies for the treatment of urinary tract infections and candida, with very interesting formulas of specific Lactobacilli and naturally antimicrobial, antiseptic or antifungal plant-based active ingredients.

3. APPLICATION FOCUS

FOCUS 1 – PRENATAL, PREGNANCY & POSTNATAL

The periods of conception, pregnancy and the first steps into motherhood are accompanied by particularly challenging nutritional stakes. In addition to adapting to the intrinsic physiological changes and symptoms that take place, parents go through a major upheaval in their lifestyle. It is therefore crucial to support women in this step to ensure their health and well-being as well as that of their child – in the safer most natural way possible (and under medical supervision).

According to the Nutraceutical Business Journal, prenatal and postnatal dietary supplements generated € 652 million in 2019, accounting for 39% of the women’s health sector sales [3].

Prenatal supplements include all kinds of nutrients (from folates, omega-3 and choline to iodine, calcium and vitamin B, D) aimed at optimizing women’s nutritional intake with a view to facilitating procreation; however, they are not necessarily related to fertility, a more medicalized and complex category to treat. However, the offer for dietary supplements dedicated to treat conditions potentially linked to infertility – such as endometriosis or the polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS) – are slowly emerging on the market.

Pregnancy supplements – dominated by multivitamins as most plant extracts are not recommended during pregnancy – aim to meet the specific and increased nutritional needs of pregnant women, as well as to alleviate certain discomforts associated with pregnancy (intestinal disorders, fatigue, nausea).

This particularly slow in terms of growth due to the maturity of the market; the question is not whether mothers to be will take nutritional supplements (systematically prescribed by their gynaecologist) but rather which ones they will choose. However, this offers brands an opportunity to develop better, cleaner more efficient and more natural solutions, argument which have significant and increasing traction for modern women. Innovation in terms of delivery formats, convenience and taste could also help brands differentiate in this segment.

Postnatal supplements are achieving the fastest growth within this category [3]. This is because appropriate nutrition has not only been demonstrated to help with postpartum weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle after birth (stress, sleep, energy, and immunity) but has also shown benefits for lactation (enhancing the nutritional value / quality of maternal milk) and the prevention of postnatal depression (baby blues).

FOCUS 2 – MENOPAUSE

The drastic increase in life expectancy of Western populations in the last few decades has led women to live well beyond their fertile period. Menopause is therefore becoming one of the key issues to address in women-targeted natural solutions, simply because its symptoms may affect modern women for about 1/3 of their life.

The transition into menopause, also known as perimenopause, is a delicate stage in a woman’s life that comes with significant uncomfortable symptoms. In 2019, it is estimated that the alleviation of its symptoms would have earned the supplement industry an estimated € 521 million, a growth of 6,2% compared to the previous year [8].

Among the most consumed categories of active ingredients, we find vitamins at the top – representing 27% of sales – which reflect the desire of the mature female public to have a holistic approach to their general health by covering their basic needs. This is followed by herbal/plant extract blends, which account for 22,9% of menopause product sales in 2020 (€ 83,4 million), with an expected growth of another 10,9% in the following year [8].

Menopause is a great example of how the classic offer of feminine dietary supplement categories can evolve and be a carrier of innovation, both in the approach and active ingredients composition.

In terms of ingredients, commonly used phytoestrogenic plants like soy, hops or black cohosh are still going strong, although a growing number of therapists consider them of equivalent risk to that of hormonal treatment – to which they were originally a natural alternative. While nobody questions the effectiveness of plants with phytoestrogenic action in the treatment of menopausal discomfort, there is now a growing demand for non-hormonal alternatives on the market.

Alongside that, this phytoestrogen-free trend also leads to the emergence of a new approach in the product offer for menopause: we no longer seek to mitigate estrogenic imbalance itself but rather to alleviate more targeted physiological symptoms caused by this hormonal imbalance.

Unsurprisingly, botanical are also at the top of the best-selling ingredient categories in women’s health. More specifically, mixtures of science backed botanical ingredients are developed to specifically tackle every aspect of senior women’s health and wellbeing and support them through menopause: from emotional balance (saffron) to quality of sleep (valerian, lemon balm), bone health, mental and physical energy / vitality (adaptogens) or even libido and metabolic balance (orange extract).

FOCUS 3 – PMS & ENDOMETRIOSIS

Balancing the menstrual cycle and alleviating its potential symptoms has also become one of the emerging concerns of female supplement consumers, thanks to the development of an increasingly extensive offer in this area. For women suffering from endometriosis, the symptoms and discomfort associated with menstruation can be particularly painful and significantly affect their quality of life. To tackle this issue, new plant-based therapeutic strategies are being explored.

Amongst the most well-known botanicals worth mentioning for menstrual cycle regulation and PMS alleviation are Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus), Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) and Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis). Other active ingredients are commonly used for more targeted side-effects of hormonal changes like Chamomile for cramp alleviation, valerian and lemon balm for emotional balance and a calming effect or turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties.

In terms of formulation examples, Pre-PMS (Laboratoires Tilman) is a phytotherapy solution containing Evening primrose oil for pre-menstrual discomfort attenuation through optimization of the transformation of fatty acids into GLA and Lavender essential oil for its calming and mood stability properties.

Another interesting product application is Endometix (Densmore Laboratories), one of the only hormone-free dietary supplements for endometriosis symptom relief available on the market. Its formulation contains anserine cinquefoil to help regulate the menstrual cycle, natural fatty acids and amino acids with anti-inflammatory and analgesic function, antioxidant polyphenols (resveratrol), as well as vitamins and minerals for fatigue reduction and normal reproduction.

4. FEMININE HEALTH BRANDS

An increasing number of brands specializing in women’s healthcare are going far beyond their role in supplying dietary supplements. Companies and communities are raising awareness and creating abundant educational contents and support networks / communities around which to encourage exchange and contribute to the demystification of certain aspects of feminine health. This is the case with platforms like Le Lab de L’Endo, a French online shop dedicated to endometriosis.

On top of a high quality range of prenatal supplements, American brand Natalist also provides its feminine customers all kinds of products and services – diagnostic, educational, self-care – to support them through every stage of conception.

Simple Health is an American brand that specializes in feminine and reproductive health, with a range going from (prenatal) multivitamins to UTI support, probiotics blends sleep aids for perimenopause support.

In 2020, the Indian nutraceutical brand Unived launched a range of vegan women health supplements targeting a whole variety of female preoccupations; from PMS, Menopause and PCOS Management (including fertility-related issues) to Nutricosmetics and a whole range of pre and postnatal supplements – called VeganMomy. Also indian brand HeraNow even goes as far as to offer women personalized consultations, follow-up support, weekly tips and reminders to take their supplements.

French brand Laboratoire Hollis also has an offer representative of the needs and requirements of its female target, by offering holistic and natural products that are expert, sustainable and made in France.

Belgian brand ShePlus also covers a whole lot more than pregnancy; they also offer treatment bundles of high quality, bioavailable, additive-free, and natural-based supplements specifically designed for either senior, active or athletic women.

5. GINSENG FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH

As a staple plant in traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng is one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world. With more than 8000 publications referenced on PubMed, ginseng root is also one of the most studied active ingredients in the field of herbal medicine. Indeed, its adaptogenic virtues and its diffuse and systemic efficacy make it a very versatile therapeutic agent, particularly suitable to address modern lifestyle-related stress and fatigue.

A significant number of scientific publications support the efficacy of ginseng in the areas of vitality, metabolism, and immunity. But the millennial panacea has not revealed all its secrets and new high potential fields of application are still emerging from recent research; among which neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), cardiovascular disorders, intestinal dysbiosis, obesity or even oncology, to name a few.

More specifically, research in the field of women’s health has intensified and revealed new potential pathways for the resolution of female-specific pathologies and discomfort – with promising results for ginseng use in the context of menopausal discomfort alleviation as well as endometriosis treatment.

Although research on its specific benefits for women’s health is still at its infancy, ginseng – and vertically grown BOTALYS ginseng in particular – ticks all the boxes to become a star ingredient of the segment in the next few years.

CONCLUSION

The nutraceutical sector, and in particular ultra-fragmented segments such as women’s health, is tending towards medicalization – both in terms of increasingly specialized applications and science-backed ingredients. And for good reason; the health professionals and consumers it targets are increasingly demanding clinical (and felt) efficacy.

The women’s health supplement sector is no exception and is currently experiencing a boom in the development of products based on scientific data.  On the other hand, research is increasingly invested in the search for natural solutions to unresolved women’s health issues.

In this context, the investigation of the therapeutic potential of recognized botanicals and powerful phytoactives such as ginseng makes it possible to broaden the application horizon of medicinal plants day by day.

And Panax ginseng may be part of the solution to offer women more natural, safe and efficient supplements for their health and well-being. 

REFERENCES

[1] Capstone Partners – Women’s Health and Beauty Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report, Dec 14 2021.

[2] Nutrition Insight – Beyond fertility: Women’s health market broadens as industry flags major potential, Nov 9 2020.

[3] Grand View Research – Women’s Health and Beauty Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report, Oct 2021.

[4] CRN USA – 2019 CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, Oct 2021.

[5] Actif’s Mag n°75, Printemps 2021 (p.20-21).

[6] Research and Markets – Women’s Health and Beauty Supplements Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report, Oct 2021.

[7] Nutritional Outlook Volume 23, Issue 8 – Women’s health hot spots for dietary supplements: healthy muscles, brain support, vaginal health, maternal health, and beauty from within, Nov 3 2020.

[8] Natural Products Insider – Product Development Guide in Nutrition for Women – How personalized formulations can be a major win with women, October 2020.