New research bolsters stress-fighting credentials of Relora ingredient

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

New research bolsters stress-fighting credentials of Relora ingredient
Next Pharmaceuticals has bolstered the stress-reducing credentials of its Relora branded ingredient with new research presented at the recent Experimental Biology conference in Boston.

The study, conducted by Supplement Watch/GLH Nutrition, found that a proprietary blend of Magnolia officinalis ​and Phellodendron amurense ​significantly improved mood and other psychological states in moderately stressed subjects. The research has been submitted but has not yet been published, according to Deanne Dolnick, vice president of Next.

Study details

The study, which was supervised by research director Shawn Talbott, PhD, randomly assigned 60 subjects (56 of whom successfully completed the study) experiencing moderate levels of perceived psychological stress to take Relora or a placebo twice a day for four weeks, a time period selected to minimize the influence of short-term mood changes that result from daily stressors. All subjects submitted three saliva samples (morning, mid-day and evening) for cortisol testing and completed a baseline Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS) on the first and last day of the study.

The results indicated that daily use of Relora reduced cortisol exposure and perceived stress while improving a variety of mood parameters -- most significantly, anger (reduced by 42%) and fatigue (reduced by 31%).

"These are exciting results that suggest Relora may be an effective natural approach to managing the detrimental effects of chronic stress without the tranquilizing side effects of pharmaceutical agents,”​ Talbot said.

Other indicators measured in the study include overall stress (reduced by 11%), tension (reduced by 13%), depression (reduced by 20%) and confusion (reduced by 27%). Salivary cortisol exposure decreased by 18%. No adverse side effects were reported.

Pairing of TCM ingredients

Relora is a patented combination of extracts of the bark of Magnolia offcianalis​ and Phellodendron amurense ​and is based on their active ingredients, honokiol and berberine, respectively. Magnolia officianalis​ is  commonly known as the Houpu Magnolia and is native to China;  Phellodendron amurense​, commonly known as the Amur Cork Tree, is native to northeastern Asia and Japan.  The bark of both trees has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine.

In the West, they have been used mostly for treating stress, the primary application for which Next has developed its ingredient. In a double blind, placebo controlled study,  Relora has shown a statistically significant effect in ameliorating stress​  in overweight, premenopausal women.

New applications

Relora has been sold in the US since  2000 and recently was approved for sale in Canada. It has been used exclusively in supplements in both tablet and capsule form until recently, and is featured by some major manufacturers such as Now Foods, Source Naturals, HVL and Reliance Vitamins.

Another avenue that would seem a natural for the ingredient is in relaxation shots and beverages marketed as supplements.  A launch last year by Celestial Seasonings of a Sleepytime shot including Relora was a first for the ingredient.  Dolnick said the company is in negotiations for the use of Relora in other shot type products.

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