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Understanding MOOD

Moods and feelings are complex and can be influenced by many things. Thoughts, decisions, lifestyles and environments, one’s overall health, even socio and economic statuses can all affect how one feels. It’s important to note however, that even though these things can affect our mood, it’s our brains - and how they respond - that ultimately determine our feelings. 

This is, of course, contrary to the popular belief that feelings come from the heart. Because how we feel is ultimately determined by the brain, we know that to understand mood, we must first understand the mind.

So, what is the brain?

The brain is a complex organ that controls every aspect of the body.

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The three main jobs of the brain are:

To manage unconscious or 'automatic' functions, such as heartbeat, breathing, digestion and regulation of body temperature.

To direct conscious or 'motor' functions, such as movement, gesturing, balance, posture, and speech.

To be in charge of ‘sensory’ and ‘behavioral’ functions, such as sight, sound, touch, thinking, emotions, and mood.

While all of the brain’s functions are important, here at Kowa we are focused mainly on supporting the third aspect of brain function - specifically how your brain determines mood.


Mood boost was inspired by our desire to create a product that was capable of working with the brain and its natural processes to improve mood. In order to deliver this impact, we decided to hunt for natural ingredients that would deliver real and tangible support to brain performance and stamina. Equally important, although not the main goal, was to ensure that it tasted just as amazing as the functional benefits that it provided.

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We started out with a list of 96 potential functional ingredients. Over the course of a year, countless hours were spent researching these ingredients in every way imaginable. Aside from the traditional forms of research (scholarly articles, ingredient consultants, market research, etc), we also became our own guinea pigs. We learned a lot during this process. In the end, after extensive personal testing on ourselves as well as testing on willing friends & family, we ended up with an ingredient stack we were genuinely excited about — 5-HTP, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola Rosea, and Gaba. These 4 clinically backed ingredients became the foundation of our Mood Boosting tonic.

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Once we had identified the ingredients, it was time to figure out the taste side of things. Perhaps not surprising to those who are familiar with these amazingly powerful ingredients, this proved to be a more difficult process than we had originally imagined — especially due to our desire to keep Mood Boost as an all-natural and sugar-free beverage. What we’ve created with Mood Boost is nothing less than art in its purest sense. A true Mona Lisa. We could go on, but we feel it’s best to let you experience it for yourself.

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If you’re ready to try Mood Boost, then click on over to our shopping page. We’ve got 3 delicious flavors waiting for you to pick whatever suits your fancy. And in the event you can’t choose just one, we’ve got a variety pack for you too. But if you’d rather learn more about the ingredients that make up Mood Boost prior to placing your order, then continue onward. We love diving deep into how and why our ingredients work. So for those of you that like the nitty gritty, this next section is for you.

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The short answer is - we use 5-HTP to help your body produce more serotonin. 

If you’re like us though, you may want some more details. So let’s dive in!

Serotonin is both a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger for the nervous system) and a hormone1 (a chemical messenger for the endocrine system)2. We like to call it the “happy hormone”. In both roles, serotonin communicates different feelings and instructions to different parts of the body. It also determines how strong these feelings and instructions are. In the brain, it mainly communicates and regulates the feelings of happiness, anger, and anxiety.3 Said more simply, increased serotonin can lead to an overall improvement in mood.

Our body takes in tryptophan (an amino acid) from foods (specifically foods like milk, chicken, peanuts, fish, etc)4 and converts it into 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)5. Then our bodies use enzymes to convert the 5-HTP into something called 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) (also known as Serotonin).6

Exercise and sunlight are two natural and effective ways to increase serotonin levels.7 Additionally, light therapy has been used for decades as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which is associated with low serotonin levels8. And of course, another recommendation we always give to help increase serotonin is taking 5-HTP (the first ingredient in Kowa’s Mood Boost).

Even though your brain needs serotonin, it is unable to receive it directly from supplements.9 This is because our brains have a blood-brain barrier, which protects our brains from harmful substances10, but also keeps out the needed serotonin. The good news is, 5-HTP can cross the blood-brain barrier!11 And once your brain receives 5-HTP it can convert it into serotonin.

Our 5-HTP comes from sustainably farmed, Organic Griffonia Simplicifolia plants in Ghana. Griffonia Simplicifolia is an evergreen shrub native to west and Central Africa. Its seeds can contain between 10-15% 5-HTP. The 5-HTP from the seeds is then pulled out using a water extraction process. This results in a pure, certified Organic, Non-GMO, and glyphosate-free 5-HTP.12


It reduces cortisol levels to help you unwind.

Cortisol is often called the “stress-hormone” since it is released by your adrenal glands mainly in response to stress or fear.13 In small levels, cortisol helps your body prepare for stress by boosting your metabolism, reducing inflammation, and regulating blood pressure.14 But, if cortisol levels are too high for too long, they can have serious negative side effects including weight gain, high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid, and weakened immune system.13

If you are looking to lower your cortisol levels, stress management techniques, meditation, sufficient sleep, and eating well are all important places to start. Some specific foods that may help with cortisol management are dark chocolate and bananas.15 And of course, another recommendation we always give to help reduce cortisol is taking Ashwagandha (the second ingredient in Kowa’s Mood Boost).

Ashwagandha (also known as Winter Cherry) is a small shrub grown in South Asia, Central Asia, and Africa that has been used for over 6,000 years in traditional Indian medicine.16 Anciently it was used as a rejuvenating tonic.

Today Ashwagandha has been determined to reduce anxiety and stress by decreasing cortisol levels.17 Some additional benefits of ashwagandha are improved sleep quality, lowered blood sugar, and improved cognition and memory.18

Rhodiola Rosea

It promotes mental endurance to help you achieve.

Mental endurance (or mental stamina) is the ability of your brain to continue in a task or problem both through stress and an extended period of time.19 When someone reaches the end of their mental endurance, they can experience burnout. In a 2021 survey, the American Psychological Association noted increased rates of burnout compared to previous years (with 36% of employees in the US reporting cognitive weariness). 20

Making sure you are taking care of your physical health is always the first step to caring for your brain. Exercising daily, eating nutritional meals, getting enough sleep, meditation, and setting small attainable goals can all help improve your mental endurance.19  And of course, another recommendation we always give to help promote mental endurance is taking Rhodiola Rosea (the third ingredient in Kowa’s Mood Boost).

Rhodiola Rosea (also known as arctic root or golden root) is a perennial flowering plant that is native to the Arctic regions of Europe and Asia. In some parts of Europe, it has been used medicinally for centuries to treat fatigue and weakness helping people improve work performance and tolerance of high altitudes.21

Rhodiola Rosea reduces stress and alleviates fatigue.22 A clinical trial administering Rhodiola Rosea to people suffering from burnout showed improvements with concentration, alertness, mood, and calmness.23 In essence, Rhodiola Rosea may help you improve your brain's ability to endure through the stresses and pressures that you face in life.


It soothes your nerves to help you relax.

Your nervous system is an interconnected web of nerves and is often called the “command center” of the body.24 It plays the key role in your thoughts, feelings, senses, and movements (both conscious and unconscious). It also regulates your body’s systems (i.e. respiratory, digestive, etc). It directs your systems by sending out messages to all parts of your body via cells called neurons. These neurons send out the messages and chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) help deliver the messages.25 

The piece of your nervous system that regulates your unconscious behavior is your autonomic nervous system. It is in charge of regulating your breathing and heart rate (among other functions). It is also the system that kicks into gear unconsciously when your body perceives a physical threat (and creates your fight-or-flight response). Stress can cause your brain to send the same signals through your nervous system to stimulate your fight-or-flight response.26

Maintaining a healthy diet, reducing stress, and avoiding drugs and alcohol are all ways that you can help keep your nervous system healthy and reduce your unconscious stress responses (i.e. calm your nerves).24 And of course, another recommendation we give to help calm your nerves  is taking GABA (the fourth ingredient in Kowa’s Mood Boost).

Gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a naturally occuring amino acid and acts in our nervous systems as an inhibitory neurotransmitter (chemical messenger). It’s job is to slow down and block some of the messages that your brain sends to your body and vice versa.27 While it isn’t available in most fresh foods, raw spinach, kale, and potatoes have shown some GABA content.28 It is more readily available in fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, and tempeh.29

Since GABA plays a role in slowing down messages in your nervous system, it has been shown to induce relaxation and reduce anxiety.  One notable study done with GABA supplementation had people who were afraid of heights cross a suspended bridge. They noted that those who had received GABA had significantly lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who received a placebo.30 Why does this happen? Because when your body perceives threats (fear of heights in this case) your unconscious nervous system starts sending signals to put your body in fight-or-flight mode. Increasing your heart rate, speeding up your breathing, etc. Increased levels of GABA slow down these messages helping you regulate your unconscious responses (i.e. calm you out!).


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17. Lopresti, Adrian L. PhDa,b,∗; Smith, Stephen J. MAa,b; Malvi, Hakeemudin MBBS, MDc; Kodgule, Rahul MBBSd An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract, Medicine: September 2019 - Volume 98 - Issue 37 - p e17186 doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186

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