Magnolia (Magnolia Officinalis)

Magnolia Benefits

Magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis) is a traditional Chinese medicine used since 100 A.D. to support the body and nurture wellbeing and to treat a plethora of ailments.

Magnolia bark has been used to treat menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and gas, nausea, and indigestion. The bark is also an ingredient in formulas used for treating coughs and asthma. The bark is used internally in the treatment of abdominal distension, loss of appetite, gastro-enteritis, vomiting, diarrhoea, asthma and coughs with acute phlegm. The bark and flower buds of Magnolia officinalis have been used to treat coughs and colds and intestinal problems.

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 officinalis, has been found to possess anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic activity.

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.


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.

Alzheimers 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.


Magnolol 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. 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.

Magnolia Herb Notes / Side Effects

Latin Name

Magnolia officinalis

Common Names

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


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.

Indicated for

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

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.

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jay smith 's avatar  jay smith 16/04/2013 17:51

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
WHAT STUDIES Please give citations

1 person liked this.
TerryD 's avatar  TerryD 15/04/2013 02:32

Magnolia bark extract is a wonderful natural way to ease anxiety or wind down from a hectic day before bed. It has provided me with the relaxation to step back and let the day get behind me. It also can numb a toothache on the spot as well as oral gel but with the added benefit of destroying oral germs. More people should learn the rewards of this healthy herb

1 person liked this.
Maryann 's avatar  Maryann 24/04/2015 21:31

What do you need to do to get the benefits of magnolia? Is the aroma beneficial? Do you boil the seeds? My tree is blooming and the flowers are waiting to be helpful

Jade Jessica 's avatar  Jade Jessica 02/04/2015 22:31

Meghan Flowers...I agree with what you are saying. In the case of Magnolia, it can strongly dispel wind, phlegm and/or dampness. Pregnancy is a condition of qi, blood and damp stagnation (which we want to hold the fetus). For many, this herb can be too strong in transforming and dispelling dampness. I hope this helps!

Meghan Flowers 's avatar  Meghan Flowers 20/03/2015 04:26

I would like to know WHY it is not recomended for pregnant women, besides the disclaimers on just about every drug and supplement that exits to "consult a doctor". I wish to read an article that actually has a reason for pregnant women not taking this supplement. I have horrible allergies, and as a pregnant woman myself, I would like to take natural things to combat my lack of breathing instead of crappy unhealthy prescription drugs, which I believe are far worse. So a REASON to not take it while pregnant, would be appreciated, otherwise I will be taking that advice in the same category as (in a majority of cases) every other supplement precaution for pregnant women... bogus.

broow 's avatar  broow 08/09/2014 18:00

Has anyone developed vertigo while using Magnolia Bark? I was taking 200mg for 8 days and developed vertigo one morning. after about a week the vertigo seems to have stopped, but I still have a mild ringing in the ears and feel light headed at times.

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