Relora is a proprietary blend of herbal extracts. The herbs in the formula are Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense bark extracts. The product is patent pending. The herbs were used in Chinese medicine for centuries and deemed "possibly safe" by WebMD when used in moderate doses. M. officinalis is a large, deciduous tree native to China.
Magnolias are warm-to-temperate climate trees or large shrubs. They are synonymous with the Southern landscape and provide shade and large blooms brightening the garden. The tallest magnolias are 60 to 80 feet tall with a spread up to 50 feet wide. The smaller magnolias, such as the star magnolia, only grow 10 to 15 feet tall. The range of forms is variable. M. officinalis is the taller size and native to China's mountain woodlands. In addition to harvesting the bark, it is also used as a timber tree.
Magnolia Bark Composition
Magnolia bark has a fresh, pleasant fragrance due to the nonalkaloid compounds magnolol and honokiol. Eudesmol is an essential oil containing the majority of the fragrance notes. The bark also contains 1 percent alkaloids, which do not enhance the medicinal properties. The bark has a high amount of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, sodium and zinc. Magnolia bark has an extremely powerful alkaloid, magnocurarine, which has been linked to renal failure, according to the Institute for Traditional Medicine.
Harvesting Magnolia Bark
The Relora herb contains magnolia bark extract. The Chinese cultivate M. officinalis for herbal use. The bark extract is, "bitter, pungent and warming," according to Harvard botanist Lily Perry. The bark is harvested in May by cutting down the trees and stripping the bark. The bark is then dried first in the shade and then the sun. After the bark dries, it is steamed and rolled into tubes. Magnolia bark is classified according to what part of the tree it is derived. Tube houpo is from the trunk with the edges classed as boot houpo. Peripheral parts of the tree yield root houpo and branch houpo.
Although WebMD does not express serious concerns about magnolia bark when used in small doses, the Relora herb has serious problems. It was found a possible cause of death at a weight loss clinic in Belgium. A Health Canada Alert stated that the herb contains a compound that causes respiratory paralysis in small animals and might be toxic to small children and infants. The herb is not recommended for use with other drugs or before surgery, as it slows down the central nervous system, according to WebMD.
The Relora herbal blend is mostly marketed to those seeking a diet aid. There is a random statement in WebMD, touting research on overweight women. It states that the women taking Relora didn't gain as much weight as those not taking the supplement. This was due to the ingestion of fewer calories. This may be because their stress levels were managed, or it may be because the magnolia bark reduces cortisol levels. There is no significant evidence that the bark does assist with weight loss in spite of claims from manufacturers.