Relora, a trademarked ingredient made up of two traditional Chinese herbs, is advertised primarily as a supplement to reduce stress. There have been claims that it can also cause weight loss, but scientific evidence is not available in support of these claims.
Relora is a supplement that came on the market in 2000. The product is advertised principally as a stress reduction supplement that can improve mood and have a calming effect on the user. It has also been suggested to aid weight loss by reducing cortisol levels and stress eating.
The supplement is made of two herbal ingredients that have not been well documented in the scientific research. Research to date does not confirm that Relora can work as an efficient weight loss agent.
Due to a lack of studies on the key components of Relora, it is not known whether or not the supplement is safe for use in the long term and users might experience side effects.
What is Relora?
Relora is a trademarked ingredient that contains two different herbal supplements: Magnolia officials and Philodendron amurense. The supplement is advertised as a stress reliever with mood enhancing effects. It has also been said to help reduce fatigue and improve sleep. Relora is a trademarked combination of ingredients, rather than a trademarked product. As such, it is made into supplements by a number of different companies and can be purchased under a wide range of brands. Some of these different branded products contain additional herbal ingredients or vitamins/minerals, but most are targeted at people looking to reduce stress levels and lose weight.
Magnolia officials is the scientific name for a species of plant, more commonly known just as magnolia. Extract is taken from the bark of the plant for use in traditional herbal medicines. The ingredient has been associated with the treatment of a range of different conditions in the past; some examples include constipation, headaches, stroke, the common cold, and asthma. It is also thought to have anxiety-reducing effects. Overall, there is not enough scientific evidence available in support of any of these claims to state with any certainty that the ingredient is an effective herbal medicine.
Philodendron amurense is also a plant, the bark of which is used in the preparation of some traditional Chinese medicines. Phellodendron has been used in the part to treat an array of different health conditions. It has been touted for its beneficial effects on pneumonia, tuberculosis, diarrhoea, gastro-intestinal ulcers, osteoarthritis, and weight loss. As with magnolia, very little scientific research has been undertaken on the ingredient and as such, it has not been proven to work in any of the ways described above.
Relora for Weight Loss
Different brands of supplement that contain Relora offer different descriptions of how it is supposed to help with weight loss. Most state that Relora can boost weight loss by suppressing the appetite and preventing stress-induced eating. Some go into more detail, describing how Relora can lower cortisol levels, which can be an indicator of stress. The ingredient is therefore claimed to reduce stress-related eating and help users to control their eating habits.
This ingredient is thought to help with weight loss by reducing anxiety and associated mood factors. Of the five key areas of weight loss, it is therefore claimed to target one – appetite suppression. It is suggested that supplementation with Magnolia officials can help to reduce calorie intake, helping to improve dieting and weight loss efforts. Convincing evidence to this effect acquired from reliable scientific studies is not available.
Phellodendron amurense is thought to work in a similar way to Magnolia officials for promoting weight loss. This ingredient is also said to target just one key area of weight loss (appetite suppression). There has also been suggestion that the ingredient can help to reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which are often increased with obesity, posing potential health risks. Once again, there is no reliable scientific evidence available that confirms claims that Phellodendron amurense can have any significant effect on body weight.
Clinical Studies on Relora
Two clinical studies appear to have been undertaken on this proprietary ingredient. It is important to note however that both of these studies were undertaken in association with the manufacturers of Relora rather than by an independent party. As such, the authors had a vested interest; the results could be biased and the trials cannot be deemed entirely reliable.
A clinical study is a form of research used by scientists to test the safety and/or efficacy of a product or ingredient in controlled conditions. These trials usually involve two groups of people– a treatment group that takes the substance and a control group that takes a placebo. Results of clinical trials should be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
The first of these aforementioned studies was published in Nutrition Journal in 2008. This trial did not directly test the effects of Relora on weight loss, instead focussing on any potential impacts of the supplement on stress, anxiety, and sleep. Twenty-six overweight but otherwise healthy female adults completed this study – a very small number upon which to perform statistical analyses and draw reliable conclusions. The subjects were all said to eat more in response to stressful situations and report being anxious.
Participants were split into two groups – the first received 250mg Relora three times a day, whilst the second received a placebo for a period of six weeks. Anxiety, sleep quality, and appetite were self-reported by the subjects. By the end of the trial, none of the subjects had reported any significant adverse events. When compared to the placebo group, those who were taking the Relora supplements reported having reduced anxiety and depression. No significant differences were found between the two groups for appetite, body morphology, or sleep quality. It was concluded that Relora might be beneficial for improving anxiety levels in premenopausal women.
The second study was published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition in 2013. For this trial, fifty-six male and female participants who suffered from moderate stress were divided into two groups. Again, one group received the Relora supplement whilst the second group took a placebo, this time for four weeks. Measurements of salivary cortisol and psychological mood state were taken throughout the trial.
After the trial period, the authors reported a significantly lower salivary cortisol exposure in the Relora group when compared to the placebo group. The individuals in the Relora group were also said to have increased mood states and reductions in overall stress, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion, and tension. The authors of this trial concluded that taking Relora on a daily basis could help to reduce perceived daily stress and improve mood.
Side effects associated with Relora are rarely mentioned on the official websites of products that contain the proprietary ingredient. Some retailers state that the product is highly unlikely to cause any side effects even when taken for long periods of time. There is no evidence available to support this claim and since the ingredient has not been sufficiently studied in clinical trials, it is not possible to state whether or not it has the potential to cause side effects, particularly in the long term.
Some products have an allergy warning, stating that the supplement should not be taken in the user is allergic to any of the ingredients. Most products containing Relora mention on the label that the supplement should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding individuals because it might cause unknown side effects. There are several groups of people that should not take this substance – these are discussed in more detail in the ‘Is there anybody who shouldn’t take Relora?’ section below.
Side Effects associated with Magnolia officials
Despite claims to the contrary, Magnolia officials has been associated with some side effects in the past. The ingredient is thought to be possibly safe for most adults when taken for short periods of time. There have been reports of side effects such as tremors, thyroid problems, headaches, tiredness, heartburn, and sexual problems. These side effects have not been confirmed in clinical studies. The safety of Magnolia officials taken regularly for long periods of time (more than six weeks) is not known.
Side Effects associated with Phellodendron amurense
In the short term, Phellodendron amurense is also thought to be safe for most adults. Reports of side effects are the same as those with Magnolia officials (tremors, thyroid problems, headaches, tiredness, heartburn, and sexual problems), presumably because the reports were made in association with a product that contained both Magnolia officials and Phellodendron amurense (as does Relora). Whether or not these side effects are of real concern is not known due to a lack of clinical trials. Similarly, potential side effects of long term usage are not known.
Is there anybody who shouldn’t take Relora?
Due to a lack of clinical trials on the two ingredients in Relora, it is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding individuals avoid products that contain the proprietary ingredient. Both Phillodendron and Magnolia have been reported as unsafe for use by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Similarly, those who are under 18 should not take Relora. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, then you should consult a doctor before taking Relora.
The ingredients in Relora might also interact with some medications. If you are taking any medications (prescription or otherwise) then you should consult a doctor before taking Relora supplements. Medications for neurological conditiosn or antidepressants such as SSRIs or MAOIs, are of particular concern. The ingredients in Relora are also thought to interact with alcohol, sedative medications, and those that are changed or broken down by the liver.
Magnolia has been said to have effects on the central nervous system and blood that make it unsafe for use with anaesthetics and other drugs that are used during or after surgery. Finally, some Relora products warn that taking the supplement could impact your ability to drive or operate heavy equipment.
Where to Buy
Relora is a trademarked combination of ingredients that is known as a proprietary ingredient. As such, supplement companies can use the ingredient in their products either on its own or with other herbal ingredients. Relora can therefore be found in numerous different health supplements on the market, sold by a range of different brands. Some of these products will contain other ingredients, so be sure to read the ingredients label carefully before purchasing.
There do not appear to be any products containing Relora available in well-known high street stores in the United Kingdom, such as Holland and Barrett or Boots. Relora supplements are however available from a small number of different online retailers.
JG Supplements, for example, sells a Relora Supplement made by NOW Foods. The only active ingredient in this product seems to be Relora. One bottle of 120 capsules is available online for £27.49 plus £2.99 for standard delivery on orders under £50. The NOW Foods brand of Relora is also available on the UK Amazon site. Here, it is sold for £29.99 for a bottle of 120 capsules with free standard delivery to a UK address. This makes it the cheapest of the two options for the NOW Foods brand of Relora.
An American company called Vital Plan sells Relora in a supplement called HPA Balance, which also contains L-theanine and Sensoril (ashwagandha). This product costs $43.20 (around £35) plus an extra $19.33 (around £16) for international shipping that will take one to three weeks.
Relora is the trademarked name for a proprietary ingredient containing extract of Magnolia and Philodendron bark. The ingredient combination is claimed to help suppress mood-related eating and so help people stick to their weight loss regimes by reducing stress and anxiety. Two studies have suggested that the proprietary ingredient can help to reduce the perception of stress and anxiety in those who were already suffering from these conditions. However, these trials appear to have been funded by the Relora manufacturers and so the results cannot be deemed reliable. The key ingredients in Relora have not been well studied and as such, their safety and potential side effects are not well known. We would recommend that you consult a doctor before taking supplements containing Relora.
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