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Relora, a combination of extracts from the bark of two Asian trees, Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense, improves the state of mind of people suffering from mild stress and also lowers their cortisol levels. American researchers write about this in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN).

formula

Relora, a combination of extracts from the bark of two Asian trees, Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense, improves the state of mind of people suffering from mild stress and also lowers their cortisol levels. American researchers write about this in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN).
Relora is a supplement patented by Next Pharmaceuticals [nextpharmaceuticals.com]. [United States Patent No. 6,582,735] Next Pharmaceuticals is also the manufacturer of Relora and the sponsor of the study that researchers working for SupplementWatch and MonaVie published in JISSN in 2013.

Relora is a combination of two extracts taken from tree bark. The extract from Magnolia officinalis contains the lignin honokiol [first structural formula shown on the right]. Honokiol interacts with the GABA-A receptor in the brain. The sedative benzodiazepines do the same, but honokiol does not have the effect of drowsiness that the benzodiazepines do.

The principal active ingredient in the second component of Relora, extract of Phellodendron amurense, is the isoquinolone alkaloid berberine [second structural formula on the right]. Substances that interact with the sigma receptor often have an antidepressant or painkilling effect.

In 2008 Nutrition Journal published a study – which by the way was also sponsored by Next Pharmaceuticals – in which Relora reduced stress in pre-menopausal women. [Nutr J. 2008 Apr 21;7:11.] In the study that this post refers to the 56 subjects were men and women who were moderately stressed and with an average age of 28.

For a period of four weeks half of the subjects took a capsule containing 250 mg Relora twice a day; the other half took a placebo. At the end of the four weeks, the amount of cortisol in the saliva of the Relora users was 18 percent lower than in the subjects that had been given a placebo. What’s more, the Relora users felt better, and reported feeling less stressed, than the placebo users.

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In the figure below the researchers divided their data up to reflect different aspects of mood. As you can see, Relora reduces feelings of anger, fatigue and confusion in particular.

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“Competitive athletes are ‘stressed’ by their intense exercise regimens in addition to their normal activities of daily living and thus may benefit from a natural therapy intended to modulate baseline perceptions of stress and stress hormone exposure”, the researchers write in their abstract. It sounds plausible, but remember that this study doesn’t actually prove this statement. The subjects used were ‘non-athletes’.

Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) and Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) barks are medicinal plants commonly used as traditional remedies for reducing stress and anxiety. Modern dietary supplements are intended to induce relaxation and reduce stress as well as stress-related eating. Previous studies have shown the combination of Magnolia/Phellodendron (MP) to reduce both cortisol exposure and the perception of stress/anxiety, while improving weight loss in subjects with stress-related eating. Competitive athletes are “stressed” by their intense exercise regimens in addition to their normal activities of daily living and thus may benefit from a natural therapy intended to modulate baseline perceptions of stress and stress hormone exposure.

METHODS:

We assessed salivary cortisol exposure and psychological mood state in 56 subjects (35 men and 21 women) screened for moderate stress and supplemented with a standardized/patented MP combination (Relora®, Next Pharmaceuticals) or Placebo for 4 weeks.

RESULTS:

After 4 weeks of supplementation, salivary cortisol exposure was significantly (p<0.05) lower (-18%) in the Relora group compared to Placebo. Compared to Placebo, the Relora group had significantly better (p<0.05) mood state parameters, including lower indices of Overall Stress (-11%), Tension (-13%), Depression (-20%), Anger (-42%), Fatigue (-31%), and Confusion (-27%), and higher indices of Global Mood State (+11%) and Vigor (+18%).

CONCLUSION:

These results indicate that daily supplementation with a combination of Magnolia bark extract and Phellodendron bark extract (Relora®) reduces cortisol exposure and perceived daily stress, while improving a variety of mood state parameters, including lower fatigue and higher vigor. These results suggest an effective natural approach to modulating the detrimental health effects of chronic stress in moderately stressed adults. Future studies should examine the possible performance and recovery benefits of Relora supplementation in athletes overstressed by the physical and psychological demands of training and competition.

PMID: 23924268 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC3750820

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