Burning out at work? French oak wood extract may help, says study

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / humonia
© Getty Images / humonia
Daily supplementation with an extract from French oak wood may help reduce symptoms of fatigue associated with burnout syndrome, says a new pilot study from Italy.

A daily 300 mg dose of the Robuvit-brand French oak wood extract for four weeks was associated with lower feelings of fatigue and improved tolerance in young surgeons and business managers, according to findings published in Minerva Medica.

“[I]n this pilot supplement study on BOS [burnout syndrome] — a condition not easy to evaluate, measure or manage — Robuvit appears to control fatigue (the primary symptom in these groups) and the associated oxidative stress with most important symptoms associated to BOS,”​ wrote researchers led by Dr Gianni Belcaro from Irvine3 Labs in Pescara, Italy.

“The effects are comparable in a group of young surgeons in training, not fully accustomed to stressing situations and also in more senior professionals, in management positions, used to control stressing environment and conditions.

“BOS as a condition is still under evaluation and future larger studies will contribute to define better situations leading to burnout and new possibilities of management.”

Robuvit

Horphag Research launched the ingredient, a water extract from the Quercus Robur species that are grown sustainably in the forest of the Massif Central region in France, without much fanfare in 2015 because the company couldn’t satisfy everyone’s demand. It was initially only available from Life Extension, Swanson, and Dr Fred Pescatore’s NuLogic Nutritionals brands.

The company announced a year later that it had completed a dedicated production line in France, and was extending the availability to additional US customers.

french oak tree Robuvit only
Image © Horphag Research

According to the company, the active compounds in Robuvit are roburins and other flavonoids unique to oak wood. Possible mechanisms of action include changes in the function of the cellular protein factories called ribosomes. 

Commenting on the study’s findings, Dr Fred Pescatore, natural health physician, author, and supplement brand owner, said: “Burnout is a real health condition – a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion – caused by a specific type of job-related stress. Millions feel burnout and it erodes their energy and the satisfaction they have with their work.

“Burnout is a difficult condition to address and its symptoms can be frustrating. This study presents the natural antioxidant Robuvit as a potential solution.”

Study details

For the new study, Dr Belcaro and his co-workers recruited 42 young surgeons in training and 66 managers to participate in their study. The surgeons and managers were given standard management, and half of them given 300 mg/day of Robuvit for four weeks. The standard management involve multidisciplinary activities focused on maintaining and improving interactions, professional ability, and retraining to make them able to operate with satisfaction and efficiency, according to the researchers.

The data indicated that Robuvit supplementation helped to alleviate fatigue (43% improvement in the surgeons and 27% in the managers), improve tolerance levels (45% improvement in the surgeons and 31% in the managers, versus between 0 and 13% in the control group), and reduced feelings of strain from interactions (21 % for the surgeons and 12 % for managers, compared to a worsening in both control groups).

Both groups also experienced improved feelings of satisfaction in their career path (31% and 35% for surgeons and managers, respectively, compared to worsening scores in the control groups).

Plasma free radicals levels, used as a marker of oxidative stress, also improved in both groups – by 11% in the young surgeons and by 19% in the managers – while no significant changes were observed the control groups.

“[I]n this registry study on BOS, Robuvit by controlling fatigue (the primary symptom) and oxidative stress, relieves the most important 'symptoms' associated with BOS. The effects are comparable in young surgeons not accustomed to stress, as well as in professionals in management positions who are used to control stress,” ​concluded the researchers.

Building the science

The ingredient is already the subject of 16 published papers listed on PubMed​. Data from researchers in Slovakia and Italy have indicated efficacy in improving energy, tiredness, and tension in both healthy people (Phytotherapy Research​, 2015, Vol. 29, pp. 1219–1224) and individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Journal of Neurosurgical Sciences​, 2015, Vol. 59, pp. 105-117). There was also a study with triathletes, which reported significant improvements in training performance and recovery, compared with controls (Minerva Cardioangiologica​, 2015, Vol. 63, pp. 403-409).

Source: Minerva Medica
Volume 109, Number 3, Pages 211-217. doi: 10.23736/S0026-4806.17.05473-8
“Supplementation with Robuvit in subjects with burnout associated to high oxidative stress”
Authors G. Belcaro et al.

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