Are They for Real? A look at the new generation of weight loss supplements.
Relacore and Cortislim are moving into the weight loss market where ephedra left off. The stimulant herb ephedra was one of the all-time best-selling weight loss products in the herb industry. As it became evident that the FDA was going to pull ephedra from the market due to potentially dangerous side effects in people who overdosed on it,
supplement companies scrambled to find other natural products for weight loss.
One new trend is to promote weight loss by reducing cortisol levels and lowering
blood sugar and two of the best-known products of that type are Relacore and Cortislim.
The TV ads for Cortislim claim that the product helps you lose weight by lowering cortisol levels. Many of you know cortisol as the hormone that rises when you're chronically stressed. Like other hormones, cortisol is essential to good health but damaging when
it’s too high or too low. Chronically high cortisol increases appetite,
especially for sugar and carbohydrates; creates weight gain around the middle;
contributes to short term memory loss; depletes bone and suppresses the immune
system. It also increases your risk for breast cancer. If your cortisol is
elevated for years on end, eventually you’ll end up with tired adrenals,
never-ending fatigue and unstable blood sugar that may lead to diabetes.
Ideally you would revive your adrenals and reduce your cortisol levels by
reducing and managing stress, eating well, exercising moderately and getting
plenty of sleep in a dark room.
The New Generation
If you need a little extra help, the new generation of supplements such as
Relacore and Cortislim are designed to reduce cortisol levels by helping you
relax and stabilizing or lowering your blood sugar. The primary ingredient is an extract
of magnolia bark (Magnolia Officinalis Cortex), which has a long history
of use in Chinese medicine for “wind-stroke, cold damage, headache, cold
and heat, fright qi, blood impediment and dead muscle (from Subhuti Dharmananda
of the Institute for Traditional Medicine). The term “fright qi” probably
comes closest to describing the condition of chronic stress, which Dharmananda
says is associated with “emotional distress, …digestive disturbances
associated with fear and anxiety, and shortness of breath due to emotional
Along with the magnolia, both Cortislim and Relacore contain some vitamin
C and calcium. Cortislim also contains chromium, a trace mineral that helps
stabilize blood sugar; L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that promotes
relaxation, and a handful of other ingredients that promote balanced blood
Relacore contains a smattering of B vitamins, magnesium, and a smattering
of herbs that promote relaxation and stable blood sugar.
Source Naturals has a product called Relora that contains magnolia and Phellodendron
amurense. There’s not a lot of research available on Phellodendron,
but in Chinese medicine it’s used as an anti-inflammatory and to help
balance blood sugar.
Chinese medicine texts warn against the use of both magnolia and phellodendron
if you have digestion problems.
Can these products help you lose weight? Maybe. But this has to be said: they’re
no substitute for a wholesome diet and moderate exercise.
As an aside, it’s interesting that the FDA removed ephedra from the
market but left allergy and cold medications containing pseudoephedrine on
the pharmacy aisles. They’re basically the same thing. Thus one is led
to assume that the motivation for removing ephedra from the market was about
something other than protecting the public health.
According to the Nutrition Business Journal, sales of ephedra in 2002
amounted to $1.28 billion. Those who still want to lose weight by using “uppers” are
probably now putting all that money into the pockets of the drug companies
that sell pseudoephedrine. Why not take a brisk walk instead?