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Relora ingredients

Relora has 250 mg per serving and is composed of these ingredients:

  • Magnolia officinalis
  • Phellodendron amurense Bark

Relora also has a little bit of calcium but because its only 38 mg per pill, I won’t review it here. I don’t think the calcium adds anything to the product. Relora is also Kosher certified.


Relora research

On the product website it’s said that Relora “has undergone successful clinical trials.”  The Relora website ( lists 4 studies as proof that Relora works. I want to review each study here and put them in context.

All the research was sponsored by Next Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Relora. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if the research was done well. I like it when a company tests its own product. So few do.


Study1 Anxiolytic properties of botanical extracts in the chick social separation-stress procedure. The word anxiolytic is science talk for “anti-anxiety.” This study was published in 2001 in the journal, Psychopharmacology. Here is the entire pdf of the study on the Next Pharmaceuticals website.

This study used baby chicks. Researchers injected various herbal extracts into baby chicks and put them in stressful situations and measured how many “distress vocalizations” were heard.

To me, this sounds like they listened to how loudly the baby chicks cried when put in a stressful situation.

At the end of the study, the baby chicks getting Relora (called “NPS00039″ in the study) seemed to have less distress vocalizations than those getting other herbal preparations.

It’s important to know these facts about this study:

    1. Relora was injected into baby chicks

    2. This was not a human study

    3. Researchers did not measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol


Study 2. Relaxation During Weight Loss: Relieving Stress with an Herbal Combination. This paper appears to me to be a pre-publication draft of a review article that appeared in 2005 in a journal called Alternative and Complimentary Therapies. I say it looks like a draft because—if you read the study— there are references in the paper such as “Author would like  table 1 here.” I wish they showed us the final paper.


Study 3. Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on weight management: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

This study was published in 2006 in a journal called Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. As stated in the title, this is a pilot study (preliminary study). In the study, 42 healthy, overweight,  premenopausal women were given either Relora (250 mg, 3 times per day, which is 750 mg total per day) or a placebo, for 6 weeks. I could not determine from the study what the placebo was. All subjects completed a 3 day food journal before and after the study. The majority of people in both groups were Hispanic.


At the end of the study, researchers noted that:

  • Only 28 people completed the study (15 people dropped out).
  •  Greater dropout rates occurred in placebo group (unknown reasons why).
  •  Those getting Relora saw no significant gain in weight. Conversely, there was significant weight gain in placebo group.
  •  Those getting Relora saw a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure (5 mm Hg) compared to placebo group.
  •  Both the placebo group and Relora group showed significant decreases in anxiety level.
  •  There were no significant changes in cortisol levels in either group. In the study, researchers said there was “a non significant trend toward lowered cortisol levels in the Relora group.” That’s fancy talk for, “we didn’t see any significant changes in cortisol levels.”


Problems with this study:

  • A lot of people dropped out of the study.
  • Both placebo and Relora groups showed significant reductions in anxiety.
  • They didn’t tell us what the placebo was.
  • Relora did not significantly reduce cortisol levels (Remember, Relora is touted to reduce cortisol levels).

Oddly, this study is listed twice on the Relora website. I don’t know why. Here is the full studyas listed on the Next Pharmaceuticals website.


Study 4.  Effect of a Proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron Extract on Stress Levels in Healthy Women: A Pilot, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

This study was published in 2008 in the Journal Nutrition and looked at the effects of Relora on stress, anxiety, and sleep in 40 healthy premenopausal women (only 26 women completed the study).

Women were randomly given either a placebo or Relora (250 mg 3 times a day, which is 750 mg total per day) for 6 weeks.  We are not told what the placebo was except that it was identical in size, shape and color.


  • No significant change in cortisol levels in either placebo or Relora groups.
  • Both groups reported significantly less anxiety on questionnaires but those in the Relora group reported almost twice as  much of a decrease.
  • No significant change in blood pressure in either Relora or placebo groups
  • No significant change in any lab tests including TSH levels, which are an indication of thyroid function (This is odd. See the side effects section below).
  • No significant changes in appetite or calories eaten in either Relora or placebo groups.
  • No significant changes in body weight, waist circumference, hip circumference or waist- to- hip ratio in either placebo group or Relora group.


 Summary of Relora Research

Looking at the 4 Relora studies listed on the New Pharmaceuticals website, this is what I see:

1. A study from 2001 of baby chicks noting less anxiety when Relora was injected. No measurement of cortisol was taken.

2. A pre-publication draft of a review paper (2005 study).

3. A pilot study from 2006 with a high dropout rate showing no significant cortisolreduction —but no gaining of weight either —compared to placebo. Both placebo and Relora group showed “significant” reductions in anxiety.

4. A pilot study from 2008 noting no significant reduction in cortisol levels, no change in appetite or body weight.

5. There are 4 studies listed but only 3 seem to be original scientific research.

6. Of the 3 original research studies, only 2 studies involved humans (the 2006 and 2008 studies). Both of these studies are preliminary studies (pilot studies) with small groups of people and both had a high dropout rates.

7. Neither of the 2 human studies of Relora showed that it significantly reduced cortisollevels.

So, where is the proof that Relora reduces cortisol levels? Dr. Oz said there was proof.


In 2013 a new Relora study published. It was titled Effect of Magnolia officinalis andPhellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. This study lasted 4 weeks and involved 56 men and women who randomly received either a placebo or 500 mg of Relora per day.

Note,  500 mg used in this study is less than that used in the 2 studies summarized above (which used 750mg per day).

People were screened for psychological stress, body fat and salivary cortisol levels. Cortisol was measured several times a day. Body fat was determined with the Tanita BDF-300A bioelectrical impedance, a device that, according to the products website, is said to measure body fat levels within 5%  of that obtained with DEXA scan (a very accurate body fat method).

At the end of the study, no significant side effects were reported.

The following changes were see in those who received Relora compared to placebo:

  • 18% reduction in salivary cortisol levels (significant reduction)
  • Significant improvements in overall stress, mood and several other indicators of psychological stress
  • No significant change in body weight or percent body fat

The study notes that it was funded by Next Pharmaceuticals (the makers of Relora) but that they had no influence on the outcomes. The researchers had no financial ties to Next Pharmaceuticals. The study was conducted by a website that reviews supplements. The study notes that two of the researchers are employees of MonaVie, which has a product that contains Relora as one of its ingredients.

For more information, here is my review of  MonaVie Essential which is different than the product that contains Relora.

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    How does Relora work? Here is the basics of how Relora is supposed to help weight loss: Too much stress keeps people from sleeping properly. This, in turn, might lead to gaining weight —not only from raiding the fridge at night—but also because it might increase levels of a hormone calledcortisol..
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