New York food scientist shakes up functional wellness drinks space

brelixi founder

Brands like Poppi and Little Saints are quickly gaining market share in the beverage industry as a healthy alternative to sugar-spiked soda and alcoholic beverages. The wellness beverage market has morphed and rapidly grown since Vitamin Water introduced the concept of “healthier water” in the late 1990s.

Today, they are called functional wellness beverages. The primary distinction is that functional beverages are formulated with added ingredients that claim to provide specific health benefits beyond basic hydration or refreshments and include bioactive compounds, such as adaptogens or probiotics, for a more targeted approach to the mind, body, stress, brain function, gut health, and immunity support.

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New York-certified food scientist Breanna Neff is taking things to an even higher level by infusing cannabis into her new line of functional wellness drinks called Brelixi. According to recent research, the GenZ crowd is less interested in alcohol than their predecessors and is looking for alternatives. 

Neff says, “Our TikTok product videos are going viral with this demographic, and we’ve generated tens of thousands of dollars in website sales because of them.”

Infusing cannabis into wellness

Neff describes herself as a “functional beverage girlie.” Her kitchen countertop is chock full of cutting-edge natural supplements, which she uses daily to craft healthy drinks tailored to her needs. With a food science and process engineering degree from Cornell University, she leverages her chemistry, biology, and nutrition expertise to create Brelixi and infuses it with fast-acting nano cannabis for an enhanced wellness experience.

Neff believes she has perfected a combination of therapeutic properties that offer both physical and mental benefits. 

“As a formulator and food scientist, I intentionally used CBD and THC isolates instead of the whole plant,” Neff explained. “This approach allows me to pair these isolates with other functional ingredients to create a curated entourage effect.”

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Brelixi drink mixes are crafted with a variety of beneficial ingredients, including:

  • Hemp-derived THC or CBD: Tailored to match the desired mood.
  • Magnesium: A vital mineral that supports numerous bodily functions and is often deficient in people’s diets.
  • Adaptogens: L-theanine from green tea to aid in stress management and overall well-being.
  • Nootropics: Including 5-HTP from Griffonia seed extract for cognitive support, focus, energy, and alertness.
  • Electrolytes: To enhance hydration.
  • Antioxidants: To boost immune support.

Nanotechnology is another standout feature of Neff’s drinks. This widely used method in cannabis edibles and beverages ensures better absorption of the plant’s molecules, which otherwise do not readily absorb into the body, making them less effective. By shrinking the cannabis molecules, nanotechnology enhances nutrient absorption and provides a faster onset of effects, maximizing the benefits of Brelixi.

Upcycling hemp and supporting farmers

Hemp and marijuana, both derived from the cannabis plant, serve distinct purposes. Hemp plants are rich in CBD, making them ideal for producing CBD-dominant products, while marijuana plants are abundant in THC, the compound responsible for their psychoactive effects.

Around 2020, it was discovered that hemp’s Delta-8 molecule could synthetically be converted to THC, causing the “high” recreational users seek. This led many hemp businesses to capitalize on the THC gummy trend spiking at the time by producing Delta-8 versions. However, since the natural concentration of Delta-8 in hemp is minimal, it must be synthetically reproduced to create sufficient quantities. This practice has raised significant concerns, as the FDA has yet to establish clear guidelines for consumer protection regarding these synthetically made products.

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Neff is one of the few hemp brands that avoid synthetically derived Delta-8, instead opting for sourcing THC naturally through a mass amount of upcycled hemp. Most hemp farmers extract CBD for their manufacturers, leaving THC behind in the biomass, which is usually discarded. By extracting THC from this hemp by-product, a new trend has emerged that not only utilizes the entire plant but also provides farmers with an additional revenue stream. This approach supports sustainable farming practices and promotes a more efficient use of resources, benefiting both businesses and farmers.

Building meaningful partnerships

As a Black and queer-owned business, Neff emphasizes the importance of integrating her heritage and community into Brelixi’s brand ethos. One notable initiative is her partnership with a Black Hemp Farmer Alliance in Georgia. This network consists of generational farming families who have been cultivating hemp for years and contributing positively to their communities. By sourcing hemp from these farmers, Neff not only supports sustainable agriculture but also fosters economic growth within marginalized communities.

In addition to her business endeavors, Neff is an Advisory Board Member at local New York colleges, where she shares her expertise in the cannabis industry. She contributes to cannabis-related educational and training programs, guiding students on developing cannabis-based food and drinks and offering insights into workforce development opportunities and training.

Neff is enthusiastic about introducing Brelixi to the wellness community. She aims to destigmatize cannabis and promote it as a valuable wellness resource. Through Brelixi, she hopes to shift perceptions and encourage a more serious and informed consideration of the plant’s benefits.

*This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.

Pam Chmiel is a contract marketer, publicist, podcast host, and a published writer specializing in the cannabis industry. She is based in Manhattan, NY.