Science-Based Cortislim Review: Stress Related Weight Loss


Cortislim, if you haven’t heard, is a new fat burner on the block. It features several ingredients typical to common ephedra-free fat burners, but its main focus is not “fat burning” as we have come to know it.

Nope, it “apparently” works by controlling weight gain and accelerating fat burning by negating the effects of the hormone cortisol—specifically in the stomach or “belly” area, if we are to believe the advertising hype.

Since I first published this article, the makers of this product were charged by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for making false and unsubstantiated claims and forced to pay over 4 million dollars in customer redress. You can read about the FTC’s action here!

I guess that makes the question “does CortiSlim work?” a bit redundant, don’t you think?

So, I hear you asking — what the heck is cortisol?

Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone, and is required for many vital purposes — proper glucose metabolism, blood pressure, immune function and inflammatory response are a few. In times of stress, either mental or physical, the body can produce an excessive amount of cortisol.

At these high levels, cortisol is a nasty little number indeed. It can negatively affect cognitive performance, suppress thyroid function, foster blood sugar imbalances and the subsequent deposition of body fat, decrease bone density, as well as other things. Athletes don’t like cortisol, as it is catabolic — i.e., muscle-wasting, rather than anabolic — i.e., muscle building.

Bottom line?

Excess cortisol levels may indeed be somewhat responsible for excess fat deposition and weight gain, no doubt about it (you’ll see why I say “somewhat” a little later on).

OK, now back to question of the hour — can this product really encourage weight loss by addressing the high cortisol levels tied to everyday stress? This Cortislim review will attemtp to answer that by looking at a few of the ingredients…

The most important “stress related” ingredient in this compilation is Magnolia bark, standardized for something called “honokiol”.

Does honokiol help with stress reduction? What about weight loss?

Very little human-based clinical evidence exists to support either statement.

There is some animal based evidence showing stress-reducing effects (see J Pharm Pharmacol. 2000 Nov;52(11):1425-9) as well as some interesting anti-oxidative effects (see Phytomedicine, Volume 14, Issue 10, 15 October 2007, Pages 696-700).

There is one “somewhat” relevant human study that looked at the effectiveness of a Magnolia & Phellodendron combination on weight management (see Altern Ther Health Med. 2006 Jan-Feb;12(1):50-4). It concluded…

“The results of this pilot clinical study indicate that obese subjects who eat in response to stress may benefit from taking a dietary supplement ingredient containing proprietary extracts of M officinalis and P amurense. The mechanism of action appears to be through reduction of cortisol levels and possibly perceived stress, thereby helping participants maintain body weight.”

I’ll draw your attention to the words “may benefit”, and “mechanism of action appears to be through reduction of cortisol levels”. In other words, this hardly constitutes definitive proof that honokiol’s stress reducing effects are a result of cortisol reduction, or that Cortisol (or any other stress-reducing fat burner) is a product you will benefit from. Lastly, this study was performed with a combination of two ingredients; not magnolia on its own.

In other words, the benefits ascribed to this product are based mostly on speculation at this time.

One other ingredient, L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has demonstrated relaxant qualities—although to my knowledge this action has not been attributed to any reduction in cortisol either.

Other major ingredients in this formulation—like chromium, banaba leaf, and vanadyl all work well to stabilize blood sugar levels, and moderate insulin reaction.

Green tea, when present in the appropriate dosage and standardized for the polyphenol EGCG (epigallaocatechingallate) can be helpful for dieters. Cortislim does not contain an effective dose of EGCG.

Some versions of CortiSlim contain synephrine (labeled as Advantra Z or citrus aurauntium). At one point, synephrine was considered a credible alternative to ephedra. However, clinical studies have shown synephrine to be largely ineffective for weight loss.

OK, let’s get to the bottom line…

Cortislim may indeed be able to reduce your stress levels—through the effects of Magnolia bark anjd L-Theanine contained in its formulation. But that’s not to say it lowers cortisol levels and it’s a far cry from saying you’re actually going to lose weight with this stuff. Most people don’t gain weight simply because they are stressed (although for some, stress does equate with overeating).

Nope, most of us gain weight because we are inactive and consume too many calories. Very simple.

The makers of this product, however, have positioned their product perfectly to tap into one of the major issues with today’s hectic lifestyle—stress, and offer a “magic pill” solution to both it and weight loss. Smart product positioning! However…

While it is arguable that stress does play a role in weight gain, it is one that is secondary to sedentary lifestyles and excessive calorie consumption. It is a serious “oversimplification” to say, as it does on the Cortislim Web site, that “stress keeps us fat”. It’s also greatly misleading, since it does not take into account the other major factors that have contributed to the obesity crisis over the last several decades.

Perhaps what is even more disappointing is that at the time of this writing, you really have to dig to find any mention of the importance of proper eating and exercise on the Cortislim Web site. That, to me, is a big credibility killer.

Cortislim, like many other supplements, continues to perpetuate the myth that weight loss is easy, and does not require getting off the couch. Nonetheless, it’s an appealing scenario, and I have no doubt that they’ll have no trouble flogging their products to millions of unsuspecting buyers — buyer who will be disappointed once again.

Having said that, I must say that I believe that supplements like Magnolia Bark may have some merit. I personally would be interested in experimenting with magnolia bark extract for its anti-anxiety effects, but I’d be hesitant to recommend Cortislim as a viable fat burner (even more so, now that the FTC has taken action against it).



  1. nahisha says

    I used to use it faithfully for a couple years before it was snatched off shelves due to FDA…and simply put…IT WORKED!…. very well, and very quick… and I’ve experimented with almost every popular weight loss product out there. There’s only a couple that have truly worked without giving me negative side effects. This was one.

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