Relora Product Review

August 9, 2013 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

As a proponent of evidence-based natural medicine, I encourage supplement manufacturers to incorporate the scientific process in their philosophies. More often than not, this falls on deaf ears primarily due to financial considerations. Specifically, the resistance to testing natural products has to do with the cost of conducting trials and the ramifications if the test results prove disappointing. But, every once in a while, a manufacturer will take the necessary steps to establish the relative efficacy and safety of their product. Relora, an herbal supplement used to address stress related symptoms, falls into the latter category.

The most surprising thing about Relora, a blend of two ingredients commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense bark), is that it’s been in the marketplace since 2000. Typically, studies are conducted on newer supplements in order to generate buzz and encourage sales. However, the latest issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition bucks this trend by featuring a brand new study on Relora. Why now? The simple answer is that Next Pharmaceuticals, the creator and Relora patent-holder, decided to finance it. While this may give pause to some, it’s a common reality in the natural health industry. If a company wants a product tested, they usually need to finance the research themselves. The process of peer-reviewing the design of the study and test results helps to reduce the risk of fraudulent findings. While this is admittedly an imperfect system, it’s usually the best and most realistic option currently available for assessing product performance.

When I combed through the medical literature, I found several studies on Relora itself. The most recent evaluated the effects of 500 mg of Relora/day (250 mg with breakfast and 250 with dinner) in a group of 60 adults living with “moderate psychological stress”. The 4 week, placebo controlled trial found that those given Relora reported a reduction in anger (-42%), depression (-20%), overall stress (-11%) and tension (-13%). In addition, measures of confusion and fatigue declined -27% and 31% respectively, while “vigor” increased by 18%. Some of these positive effects seemed to be mediated by a marked reduction in cortisol, a stress hormone, in the participants (-18%). Previous studies on Relora and its components go on to demonstrate potential benefits in relation to: a) stress related eating and weight management; b) arthritic symptoms and systemic inflammation; c) cardiovascular risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, glucose and lipid profiles; d) psychological symptoms occurring due to menopause including anxiety, insomnia and irritability.

In closing, I want to share my personal view of how and when to use medications and supplements for the management of anxiety and stress. Whenever possible, I believe it’s preferable to address the underlying cause(s) of the psychological symptoms. This may entail everything from dietary and lifestyle changes to mind-body practices and/or psychological counseling. Select supplements and medications are sometimes beneficial and necessary to ensure adequate relief of troubling symptoms. Having said that, ideally one should only rely on medications and supplements as long as needed and taper off when indicated with the guidance of a health care professional. And, equally important is to work toward fundamental changes while using medication or supplemental support so that they remain a temporary form of assistance.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Therapeutic Applications of Compounds in the Magnolia Family (link)

Study 2 – Natural Products: Potential for Developing Phellodendron Amurense (link)

Study 3 – Effect of Magnolia Officinalis and Phellodendron Amurense (Relora(R))(link)

Study 4 – Effect of a Proprietary Magnolia & Phellodendron Extract on Stress (link)

Study 5 – Effect of a Proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron Extract on Weight (link)

Study 6 – Anxiolytic Properties of Botanical Extracts in Chick Social Separation (link)

Study 7 – Randomized Controlled Study on Clinical Efficacy of Isoflavones Plus (link)

Study 8 – Soy Isoflavones, Lactobacilli, Magnolia Bark Extract, Vitamin D3 and (link)

Study 9 – Phellodendron and Citrus Extracts Benefit Joint Health in Osteoarthritis (link)

Study 10 – Phellodendron and Citrus extracts Benefit Cardiovascular Health in (link)

Excess Cortisol Hastens Cellular Aging

Source: Hormones (Athens) 2009 Jan-Mar;8(1):7-22. (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements

2 Comments & Updates to “Relora Product Review”

  1. Jacek A. Haciak, Psy.D. Says:

    Thank you for the continued use of sensible interpretations of limited data, and for your measured recommendations when psychosocial activities are to be considered first.

    Much appreciated.


  2. JP Says:

    Many thanks, Jacek! I do my best! 🙂

    Be well!


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