Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) refers to a large genus of flowering plants in the family Magnoliaceae. These trees and shrubs are known for their beautiful, fragrant flowers and glossy, dark green leaves. Magnolias are native to Asia and the Americas and are widely cultivated for ornamental purposes in gardens and landscapes around the world.

The bark of some species of Magnolia have been used in traditional medicine for their medicinal properties, particularly in Asian cultures. Additionally, magnolia extracts are sometimes used in aromatherapy and skincare products for their soothing and calming effects.

Medical Uses of Magnolia Bark

Magnolia Bark is a traditional Chinese medicine used since 100 A.D. to support the body and nurture well-being and to treat a plethora of ailments.

The bark and flower buds have been used to treat colds, asthma and coughs with acute phlegm.

Magnolia bark has been used to treat: menstrual cramps, intestinal problems including; abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and gas, abdominal distension, loss of appetite, gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and indigestion.

Active Ingredients in Magnolia Bark

Japanese researchers have determined that “honokiol” and “magnolol”, two chemicals found in Magnolia Bark, are up to 1000 times more potent than Vitamin E in antioxidant activity. These two active compounds are thought to contribute to the primary anti-stress and cortisol-balancing effects of the plant.

Numerous animal studies have demonstrated honokiol to act as an anti-stress agent at lower doses. Magnolol, a compound isolated from the cortex of magnolia , has been found to possess anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic activity.

Magnolia Bark for Weight Loss

Magnolia bark is getting much press as a “cortisol”, the stress hormone-lowering supplement. Cortisol has also been associated with weight gain (particularly fat in the abdominal area), sugar control problems, memory problems, and a host of other stress induced disorders.

Magnolia Bark for Anxiety

In studies, honokiol was compared with diazepam (Valium), a well known pharmaceutical anxiolytic. Honokiol was found to be five times stronger than diazepam in reducing anxiety without the side effects of diazepam. While diazepam does reduce anxiety, it also induces muscle relaxation, an effect not shared by honokiol.

It would seem that honokiol is less likely than diazepam to induce physical dependence, central nervous system depression, motor nerve disruption, or amnesia at doses eliciting the anxiolytic effect. Because honokiol reduces anxiety without disruption of motor activity, it is postulated that the mechanism of the anxiolytic effect of honokiol is at least partially different from that of diazepam.

Magnolia Bark for Alzheimer’s Disease

Magnolia has several powerful effects on acetylcholine levels in the brain, offering potential benefits for victims of Alzheimer’s Disease. Alzeimer’s Disease is characterised by insufficient levels of acetylcholine, accompanied by the buildup of amyloid plaque in the brain, disrupting normal brain functioning.

Two biphenolic compounds found in Magnolia, Honokiol and magnolol, increase choline acetyltransferase activity, inhibit acetylcholinesterase, promote potassium-induced acetylcholine release and exhibit neurotrophic function in in vitro studies.

Choline acetyltransferase is an enzyme involved in the cellular synthesis of acetylcholine, an increase of which can up-regulate the production of acetylcholine necessary for proper brain function. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, the inhibition of which preserves available acetylcholine.

Honokiol and Magnolol also exhibited neurotropic effects in vitro, which could translate into enhanced brain cell growth and reduced brain cell death in vivo.

Magnolia Bark for Asthma

Magnolol from Magnolia Bark was found in studies to support the body’s natural production of adrenal steroids (corticosteroids) which suppress inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect is thought responsible for alleviating the allergic inflammatory response in cases of asthma.

Magnolia for Weight Loss

Increases in corticosteroids may be a concern for those wishing to use magnolia as a weight loss product, but in a patented product combining the herb with phellodendron this effect was reversed, resulting in corticosteroid reduction, and reduced cortisol-induced food cravings.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Magnolia Herb Notes / Side Effects

Magnolia is generally regarded as safe when taken in the recommended doses. It should not be used by pregnant women, or for those suffering from dehydration. Safety in young children, nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease is not known.

Large doses (many times the recommended dosage) may cause vertigo.

Magnolia officinalis bark contains turbocurarine and related substances which are known to cause respiratory paralysis in animals and may be toxic to infants and small children, even when used as directed.

Latin Name

Magnolia officinalis

Common Names

Ch’Uan Pu, Chinese Magnolia, Choon Pok, Magnolia, Hou Pu, Magnolier Officinal

Properties of Magnolia Bark

Anti-allergic, anti-asthmatic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-stress, anxiolytic, aphrodisiac, appetiser, digestive, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, ophthalmic, stomachic, tonic, warming.

Magnolia Bark is Indicated for:

Abdominal pain, bloating and gas, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, amoebic dysentery, asthma and coughs with acute phlegm, bronchitis, colds, colic, diarrhoea, digestive disorders, dysentery, gas, gastroenteritis, indigestion, intestinal problems, weight loss, loss of appetite, malaria, menstrual cramps, nausea, rheumatism, typhoid, ulcers, vomiting.

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