'Natural' Energy Drinks Hit Shelves, Still Raise Concerns

While "clean energy" seems to be the trend in the environment right now, it's also making its way into energy drinks.

Energy drinks have been panned by critics for containing high levels of caffeine, sugar, and other harmful ingredients, but now beverage makers are marketing more "natural" drinks, according to the Portland Press Herald. Drinks made with plant leaves and fruit juice are hitting shelves with more frequency, including products from V-8 and Starbucks. And this could be a smart business decision, with energy drinks in high demand. Sales of the caffeine-packed drinks hit $12.6 billion last year, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts.

But, putting "all-natural" on a label has not solved the concern surrounding energy drinks. After all, in the end, Roland Griffiths, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University, told the Press Herald, "caffeine is caffeine."

"It doesn't matter whether that compound is synthesized in a laboratory or is synthesized in a plant," he said to The Portland Press Herald. "It's going to have identical pharmacological, subjective and behavioral effects."