What is Magnolia?
The botanical name of this herb is Magnolia officinalis. The plant belongs to the Magnoliaceae family of herbs and has more than 200 related species under its fold. Other common names by which the herb is known include the following - Ch’Uan Pu, Hou Pu, Choon Pok, Holly Bay, White Laurel, beaver tree, Indian bark, Chinese magnolia etc.
Magnolia can be predominantly seen in eastern and south eastern parts of Asia. It can also be seen in North and Central America, as well as in West Indies.
How Does it Work?
The barks of Magnolia contain the following important phenolic chemicals – honokiol and magnolol. The herb has the following medicinal properties associated with it – anti-oxidant, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic, anti-stress due to its cortisol-balancing effect, anti-fungal & anti-bacterial, aphrodisiac, digestive, expectorant, emmenagogue, stomachic etc.
Health Benefits of Magnolia barks
The barks of Magnolia are associated with reducing the effects of the following ailments:
Stress & Anxiety
In the Chinese traditional medicine, Magnolia barks are used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The chemical honokiol present in the barks of Magnolia is considered the chief reason behind this property. In short, the chemicals present in the herb are anti-depressant in nature.
The herb is also used to treat stomach problems, especially those related to stress. Magnolia bark extracts are extensively used in Chinese medicines to treat the following conditions – bloating, abdominal pain, gas, indigestion and diarrhea. The herb is usually used in combination with licorice and ginger for treating stomach complaints.
Cold & Asthma
Another chemical present in the herb (Magnolol) was found to have extreme anti-inflammatory properties that could help in reducing symptoms of asthma and cold. The chemical present in the herb helps in the production of corticosteroids which are necessary to suppress inflammation in the body.
It is also claimed that the herb positively affects the acetylcholine levels in the brain, thereby helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have very low levels of acetylcholine in their body which significantly reduces the functioning of the brain. In a few related clinical studies, it was found that the chemicals Honokiol and magnolol help in the choline acetyltransferase and potassium-induced acetylcholine release functions.
Magnolia bark extracts are also associated with weight loss treatment. The herb helps in weight loss as it reduces the activities of the stress hormone Cortisol in the body. Cortisol is associated with stress related obesity and sugar control issues.
In traditional medicine, the herbal extracts of magnolia have been used to treat the symptoms of menopause in women. Menopause leads to fluctuating levels of hormones in the body that can cause stress and anxiety. The extracts of Magnolia officinalis have been used in many herbal remedies for menopausal symptoms.
The herb is also used to prevent and treat dental problems, especially tooth decay. In a study conducted in Japan, it was found that the herbal extracts of Magnolia officinalis could fight bacteria that cause dental plaque, decay and subsequent problems of bad breath.
Magnolia has powerful anti-oxidant properties that help in fighting free radicals in the body. Free radicals are associated with premature aging and cancer. The herb is also associated with the treatment of leukemia, colorectal and prostate cancer.
There is no standard recommended dosage for Magnolia extracts based on human studies. However, some recommend taking 300 mg of the herbal extract three times a day for treating stress & anxiety symptoms.
Side Effects, Overdose & Other considerations
The herb is considered safe when taken at optimum or lower dosage levels. Over dose of the herb may lead to serious side effects such as vertigo & paralysis.
Magnolia extracts must be avoided in pregnant women, children and those with kidney ailments. In pregnant women, the herb may cause uterine contraction and miscarriage. The herb strongly affects the nervous system and must be avoided atleast two weeks prior to a surgical procedure.
Magnolia is an age old herb used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medication as well as in Japanese Medicines. The herb is associated with digestive system problems, weight loss and is also found to reduce stress levels in the body. The herb is considered safe and is often combined with other herbs for therapeutic use.
Magnolia extracts interact with the following – alcohol, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines and CNS depressants.