Background: Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) and Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) barks are medicinal plants commonly used as traditional remedies for reducing stress and anxiety. Modern dietary supplements are intended to induce relaxation and reduce stress as well as stress-related eating. Previous studies have shown the combination of Magnolia/Phellodendron (MP) to reduce both cortisol exposure and the perception of stress/anxiety, while improving weight loss in subjects with stress-related eating. Competitive athletes are "stressed" by their intense exercise regimens in addition to their normal activities of daily living and thus may benefit from a natural therapy intended to modulate baseline perceptions of stress and stress hormone exposure.
Methods: We assessed salivary cortisol exposure and psychological mood state in 56 subjects (35 men and 21 women) screened for moderate stress and supplemented with a standardized/patented MP combination (Relora®, Next Pharmaceuticals) or Placebo for 4 weeks.
Results: After 4 weeks of supplementation, salivary cortisol exposure was significantly (p<0.05) lower (-18%) in the Relora group compared to Placebo. Compared to Placebo, the Relora group had significantly better (p<0.05) mood state parameters, including lower indices of Overall Stress (-11%), Tension (-13%), Depression (-20%), Anger (-42%), Fatigue (-31%), and Confusion (-27%), and higher indices of Global Mood State (+11%) and Vigor (+18%).
Conclusion: These results indicate that daily supplementation with a combination of Magnolia bark extract and Phellodendron bark extract (Relora®) reduces cortisol exposure and perceived daily stress, while improving a variety of mood state parameters, including lower fatigue and higher vigor. These results suggest an effective natural approach to modulating the detrimental health effects of chronic stress in moderately stressed adults. Future studies should examine the possible performance and recovery benefits of Relora supplementation in athletes overstressed by the physical and psychological demands of training and competition.