The current concerns over the safety of popular herbal supplement kava have undoubtedly impacted sales at many supplement manufacturers. But, as is so often the case, what is bad news for one section of the industry is seen as good news for another.
This is certainly the case for Next Pharmaceuticals, which has profited from the concerns over kava to launch Relora, its own patent-pending ingredient which it claims is "a safe and more effective natural supplement for stress than kava". Relora contains two patent-pending proprietary plant extracts, one from Magnolia officinalis and the other from Phellodendron amurense.
Next developed Relora over a three-year period of screening fractions from plants around the world, conducting pharmacology and toxicology studies and running human trials. In initial human trials, eight out of 10 stressed individuals felt more relaxed, seven out of 10 enjoyed more restful sleep, and nine out of 10 said it was gentle on the stomach, the company claimed.
Next said that Relora had also been shown clinically to significantly alter the hormone levels associated with stress-induced obesity, adding that these new findings not only supported Next's earlier studies demonstrating that the plant extracts in Relora provide significant relaxation and more restful sleep in stressed individuals, but also that Relora provides new hope for the numerous individuals with weight problems that are often stress-related.
The new findings are the result of a trial completed in January, 2002 at the Living Longer clinic in Cincinnati that studied the effects of Relora on cortisol and DHEA, two hormones related to anxiety, and at least in the case of cortisol, also related to food cravings and over eating in stressed individuals. The natural plant extract lowered cortisol levels by 37 per cent and increased DHEA by 227 per cent, the company said.
"These findings are statistically significant and support the positive results we have obtained with this ingredient over the past year," said Dr James LaValle, Living Longer Wellness Director and principal investigator for the study. "More than 20 per cent of American adults have metabolic syndrome, a type of obesity often characterised by increased abdominal and facial fat that is also associated with increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. This stress-related condition is associated with elevated cortisol levels.
"The new findings with Relora are very exciting because it is the first natural product for lowering cortisol, decreasing stress and its associated increase in cortisol that has been shown to cause the excess fat deposits seen in metabolic syndrome," he said.
Charles Kosmont, CEO of Next, added: "Additional studies are planned this year to continue supporting the role of Relora as a valuable dietary supplement and beverage or bar ingredient for weight control. In addition, we have a major public relations campaign planned to build consumer and health professional awareness of this new and exciting ingredient."