Magnolia flower and plant health benefit and medical use
January 4 2017 by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Magnolia contains sesquiterpene lactones such as parthenolide. Magnolia is used in traditional Chinese medicine to help relax and relieve stress. In rats, it has antidepressant effects. I have not come across human trials with magnolia so I can't say much about this herb at this time. What's confusing to me is that sometimes the research listed below has involved magnolia stem or flower, other times magnolia bark has bee used. And yet other studies do not mention which part of the plant has been used.

How is magnolia herb available?
Magnolia bark is sold either by itself as powder or as magnolia extract. It is also found in combination with other herbs in several products. Other herbs used in relaxation and lowering stress include kava, valerian, and ashwagandha.

Traditional uses
Magnolia officinalis as a traditional Chinese herb has long been used for the treatment of anxiety, cough, headache and allergic diseases, and also have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of mental disorders including depression.

Am J Chinese Med. 2013. Identification of Magnolia officinalis bark extract as the most potent anti-inflammatory of four plant extracts. This study was designed to compare the anti-inflammatory potential of a Magnolia officinalis bark extract solely or in combination with extracts prepared from either Polygonum aviculare, Sambucus nigra, or Isodon japonicus in bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulated human gingival fibroblasts (HGF-1) and human U-937 monocytes, as cell models of periodontal disease.

Pharmazie. 2013. Magnolol induces apoptosis in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells through G2/M phase arrest and caspase-independent pathway. Magnolol, a small-molecule hydroxylated biphenol, isolated from the root and stem bark of Magnolia officinalis, has been shown to possess antiproliferative effect on various cancer cell lines.

Stress reduction, anxiety
Q. Relora is a blend of a patented extract from magnolia officinalis bark and a proprietary extract from phellodendron amurense bark. Does this product help with weight loss and dieting?
     A. I don't have personal experience with this product, but I found one study where it was slightly helpful in reducing anxiety.

Nutr Journal. 2008. Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on stress levels in healthy women: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. This study measured the effects of a proprietary blend of extracts of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora) on anxiety, stress and sleep in healthy premenopausal women. The intervention was Relora (250 mg capsules) or identical placebo 3 times daily for 6 weeks. The study was conducted by Miami Research Associates, a clinical research organization in Miami, FL. This pilot study indicates that Relora may offer some relief for premenopausal women experiencing mild transitory anxiety. There were no safety concerns or significant adverse events observed in this study.

Mangnolia bark extract for bad breath and oral health
Chewing gum manufacturer Wm Wrigley Jr Co had added a bit of magnolia bark extract as a germ-killing compound to their Eclipse gum and mints. The hope is to not simply mask bad breath, as most strongly flavored mints and gums do, but to kill odor-causing bacteria.

Caries Res. 2011. Effect of a sugar-free chewing gum containing magnolia bark extract on different variables related to caries and gingivitis: a randomized controlled intervention trial.

Anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects of sesquiterpene lactones from Magnolia and Bear's foot.
Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004.
Sesquiterpene lactones possess a variety of biological activities, including anti-inflammatory activity. Plants native to the southeastern United States, Magnolia grandiflora and Smallanthus uvedalius, Polymnia uvedalius, are novel sources of the sesquiterpene lactones parthenolide and enhydrin, respectively. In this study, the anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects of these isolated lactones from these two plant sources were evaluated in the rat carrageenan inflammation model. These findings suggest that parthenolide and enhydrin from these plant sources may be useful in the treatment of inflammatory pain.

Study of Magnolia grandiflora extracts in guinea pigs cardiac muscle
Arch Cardiology Mex. 2004.
Several extracts from diverse Magnolia grandiflora varieties were pharmacological evaluated in the cardiac muscle. From March to July, flowers and leaves from Magnolia grandiflora, native from the National Institute of Cardiology "Ignacio Chavez", from north, west, and orient zones from Mexico City, and from Puebla, Colima and Chiapas states were collected. They were separately processed and the extracts were obtained by maceration with ethanol-water (1:3 v/v) at 4 degrees C during two weeks. Qualitative analysis was accomplished with thin-layer, column and high-performance liquid chromatographies (HPLC). Functional and molecular analysis was made by specific chemical reactivity and by protonic magnetic resonance (RMN 1H). Pharmacological evaluation was completed in isolated and perfused male guinea pigs hearts. Extracts, fractions, and compounds were administrated by serial bolus in a gradual dose-response curves study in which left intraventricular pressure and coronary perfusion pressure were recorded, evaluating by such the positive inotropic and vasodilator effects of Magnolia grandiflora extracts. Vulgarenol and 2-p-hydroxyphenyl-2-hydroxy-ethylamine were isolated and identified, and the obtained results suggest that its positive inotropic and vasodilator effects are owed to these substances, being complemented by magnograndiolide and tyramine.

The inhibitory effects of aqueous extract of Magnolia officinalis on human mesangial cell proliferation by regulation of platelet-derived growth factor-BB and transforming growth factor-beta1 expression.
J Pharmacology Science. 2004.
Mesangial cell (MC) proliferation, mediated by platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-BB, transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1, and cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK), is the common feature of glomerulosclerosis. Magnolia officinalis, stem bark of Machilus thunbergii S., has multiple pharmacological effects. In this study, we investigated the influence of aqueous extract of Magnolia officinalis on MC proliferation, DNA synthesis, and expression of PDGF-BB, TGF-beta1, CDK1, CDK2, and CDK4 in fetal bovine serum (FBS)-activated human MC. Magnolia officinalis inhibited the MC proliferation, DNA synthesis, and the expression of PDGF-BB, CDK1, and CDK2 gene and CDK1, CDK2, and TGF-beta1 protein. These results suggest that the inhibitory effect of Magnolia officinalis on MC proliferation may be mediated by regulation of PDGF-BB and TGF-beta1expressions and by modulation of CDK1 and CDK2 expression.

Metabolites of orally administered Magnolia officinalis extract in rats and man and its antidepressant-like effects in mice.
J Pharm Pharmacol. 2003.
Tthe aqueous extract was orally administered to rats, and metabolites in the urine were analysed by a high-performance liquid chromatograph equipped with a photodiode array detector. When the extract was given to rats, five metabolites, sinapic acid-4-O-sulfate, sinapic acid-4-O-beta-glucuronide, sinapic acid, dihydroxy-5'-(2-propenyl)[1,1'-biphenyl]-3-yl]-(E)-2-propenoic acid, and an unchanged form, magnolol were detected in the urine. It was revealed that metabolites 1-3 and 4 were respectively derived from syringin and magnolol contained in the extract. In a human urine sample, metabolites 3-5 and dihydroxydihydromagnolol were detected. Among these free form metabolites, acute treatments with magnolol and dihydroxydihydromagnolol attenuated the forced swim-induced experimental depression in mice. The results indicated that magnolol and dihydroxydihydromagnolol were the antidepressant constituents of Magnolia officinalis.

Anti-inflammatory actions
Magnolol exerts an anti-inflammatory property by down-regulated the expression of TLR4 up-regulated by LPS, thereby attenuating TLR4 mediated the activation of NF-κB and MAPK signaling and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These findings suggest that magnolol may be a therapeutic agent against inflammatory diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013.

Q. Can lemon balm, chamomile, magnolia and phellodendron be taken together?
     A. Many herbs can be taken together, it all depends on the dosage. When combining herbs it is best to use less of each since their effects can add up.

Magnolia root extract is proclaimed to be effective in drastically reducing the body's response to chronic stress. Is this true?
   I have not seen any studies in humans using magnolia root extract and hence do not have a strong opinion on this herb at this time.

Can magnolia be taken the same day as ahcc extract, lipoic acid, saw palmetto herb or acetylcarnitine?
   I don't see why not in small doses.

Iíve struggled with anxiety (GAD) most of my life, in bouts. What do you think about magnolia bark and itís two main active ingredients (canít remember what they are). Itís supposed to be a viable alternative to Kava with few side effects. Is magnolia bark available anywhere?
   Other options for anxiety include 5-HTP, small amounts of ashwagandha, tryptophan, passionflower. We have not looked into magnolia bark in much detail. Perhaps alternating different herbs and nutrients could be an option to prevent relying too much on one anti anxiety herb and thus reducing the potential side effects.

Been reading about magnolia for depression / anxiety. are you aware of any good sources / what about for honokiol / magnolol?
    There are more potent and effective supplements for anxiety or depression.

I have come across some articles on honokiol, an extract of magnolia bark. The material I read indicates it may be helpful for many health issues, from viruses to sleep and anxiety issues, from blood thinning to various types of cancer, even promoting apoptosis in cancer cells. There seem to be no objectionable side effects or drug interactions. Have you done any research on this natural product and do you have any recommendations?
   A. I have not studied this honokiol extract as of 2017 but if I come across any such studies I will mention them. Honokiol is a lignan found in the bark, seed cones, and leaves of trees belonging to Magnolia.

Suppliers, info received by email
Changsha Inner Natural Inc. provides high quality Magnolia bark extract. We have set up GAP base for 5000 acre Magnolia officinalis in Zhang jia jie and An hua from Hunan province, which are the main place of planting Magnolia officinalis in China. Under optimum environmental conditions, biphenol compounds (magnolol and honokiol) are present in magnolia bark at about 12%-15%. we can gurantee the stable supply channel of the raw material. with up-to-date field instruments to confirm identity and grade the quality of magnolia bark material collected. With supercritical fluid CO2 extraction technology, our magnolia bark extract leaves no toxic residues and it is an all natural, organic solvent. At present, The magnolia bark extract capacity is 10 tons per year. We could expand our production capacity according to customer needs. Flow Chart:
Magnolia bark material --- Extracted by Supercritical CO2 extraction --- Crystallizing and Re-crystallizing --- Vacuum Drying
Brief COA of common specification below:
Products name: Magnolia bark extract
Plant original: Magnolia officinalis
Form: Light yellow to white Powder
Specification:10%-90% Magnolol + Honokiol
Extract Solution: Supercritical CO2 extraction
Magnolol, Honokiol