Experimental Biology 2013 Recap

Dr. Shawn Talbott (Ph.D., CNS, LDN, FACSM, FACN, FAIS) has gone from triathlon struggler to gut-brain guru! With a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry, he's on a mission to boost everyday human performance through the power of natural solutions and the gut-brain axis.

I just spent several days attending and presenting at the American Society for Nutrition program at the Experimental Biology Scientific Conference. EB – as it’s known by the 30,000+ scientists who attend every year – is the largest life sciences conference in the world. I’ve been attending EB for more than 20 years now – and I always leave the event with a brain full of new ideas for possible nutrition products.



This year, EB was held in Boston – so you can imagine the high level of security around any public gathering after the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15. Local-boy, comedian Adam Sandler, was quoted as saying, “Don’t mess with Boston – they’re the only city willing to shut down until they find you!”


I delivered two presentations yesterday (April 23) – both about different anti-stress herbs found in MonaVie’s Vset product (which is currently in pre-launch). I think it was fitting to be talking about STRESS one week after the bombings (while people were undoubtedly on edge) as well as in April, which is National Stress Awareness Month.


In the first study, we looked at a combination of herbs (magnolia/phellodendron) used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for reducing stress and improving “Qi” (pronounced “chee”). In TCM, the concept of Qi indicates vitality, energy, and resilience to stress – very similar to what we measure as “vigor” (the opposite of “burnout”) in modern psychology research. In this study, we found a significant improvement in stress hormones (lower cortisol) and mood state people taking the herbal blend (compared to a placebo group). The supplement group had higher vigor (mental/physical energy) as well as lower indices of depression, tension, and fatigue. Their stress was lower, their stress hormones were lower, and they simply “felt better” in numerous ways.


In the second study, we looked at a very unique herbal extract (tongkat ali) used in traditional Malaysian medicine (TMM) for improving stamina and strength. Sometimes, tongkt ali is called “Malaysian ginseng” because of its “energy promoting” and “anti-aging” effects, but our studies indicate that tongkat ali actually works in some very novel ways to improve how we feel. In the new study, subjects taking tongkat ali (compared to placebo) had a significant restoration of stress hormone levels (lower cortisol and higher testosterone) – with improved mental/physical performance. When we’re under chronic stress, we often see elevated cortisol and suppressed testosterone – which can lead to problems with mental focus, feelings of tension, and mood disturbances. Tongkat ali is able to restore our normal “biochemical balance” – and in doing so, help us to feel better in the face of our chronically stressful lives.


I’ll include the research abstracts below so you can see the actual results from each study – and next week, I’ll post the slides from the presentation along with an audio track to explain our findings.


Effect of Magnolia/Phellodendron on Cortisol and Mood State in Moderately Stressed Subjects

S Talbott, J Talbott, and M Pugh


Abstract# 2877

Program# 1076.3

Board# D320


Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) and Phellodendron (Phellodendron amurense) barks are medicinal plants commonly used as traditional remedies for reducing stress and anxiety. Modern supplements are intended to induce relaxation and reduce stress and 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.


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 (ReloraTM, Next Pharmaceuticals) or Placebo for 4 weeks.


Salivary cortisol exposure was significantly (p<0.05) reduced by -18% in the Relora group. Significant (p<0.05) mood state improvements were found in the Relora group for Overall Stress (-11%), Global Mood State (+11%), Vigor (+18%), Anger (-34%), Fatigue (-31%), and Confusion (-27%). These results indicate that daily supplementation with a combination of Magnolia and Phellodendron (Relora) reduces cortisol exposure and perceived stress, while improving a variety of mood state parameters, suggesting an effective natural approach to the detrimental health effects of chronic stress.


This study was funded by Next Pharmaceuticals and conducted by SupplementWatch



Effect of Eurycoma longifolia on Stress Hormones and Psychological Mood State in Moderately Stressed Subjects

S Talbott, J Talbott, A George, and M Pugh


Abstract# 2865

Program# 1076.2

Board# D319


Eurycoma longifolia is a medicinal plant commonly called Tongkat ali (TA) and “Malaysian ginseng.” TA roots are a traditional “anti-aging” remedy and modern supplements are intended to improve libido, energy, sports performance and weight loss. Previous studies have shown properly-standardized TA to stimulate release of free testosterone, improve sex drive, reduce fatigue, and improve well-being.


We assessed stress hormones and mood state in 63 subjects (32 men and 31 women) screened for moderate stress and supplemented with a standardized hot-water extract of TA root (PhystaTM, Biotropics Malaysia) or Placebo for 4 weeks.


Significant (p<0.05) improvements were found in the Physta group for Tension (-11%), Anger (-12%), and Confusion (-15%). Stress hormone profile (salivary cortisol and testosterone) was significantly (p<0.05) improved by Physta supplementation, with reduced cortisol exposure (-16%) and increased testosterone status (+37%). These results indicate that daily supplementation with Tongkat ali (Physta) improves stress hormone profile and certain mood state parameters, suggesting that this “ancient” remedy may be an effective approach to shielding the body from the detrimental effects of “modern” chronic stress.


This study was funded by Biotropics Malaysia and conducted by SupplementWatch



Thanks for reading,





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My books related to stress, cortisol, vigor, and Feeling Your Best:


  • Vigor Diet – The New Science of Feeling Your Best


  • The Secret of Vigor – How to Overcome Burnout, Restore Biochemical Balance, and Reclaim Your Natural Energy


  • Killer at Large – Why Obesity is America’s Greatest Threat – an award-winning documentary film exploring the causes and solutions underlying the American obesity epidemic. FREE versions at  http://www.KilleratLarge.com






About the Author

Exercise physiologist (MS, UMass Amherst) and Nutritional Biochemist (PhD, Rutgers) who studies how lifestyle influences our biochemistry, psychology and behavior - which kind of makes me a "Psycho-Nutritionist"?!?!

  • Thank you, Doc Talbott! What a blessing and privelege to have you as our CSO at MonaVie! We are thankful that quality will never be compromised with you leading the way!

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