What Are The Health Benefits Of Magnolia Herb?

Magnolia, a flowering plant species native to North America and Southeast Asia, is traditionally used in Chinese and Japanese medicine. The magnolia family comprises over 200 different species and can be traced back to before the evolution of bees! Magnolia’s popularity in herbal medicine (it is even cited in ancient Chinese texts) is attributed to bioactive ingredients which improve wellness and treat a host of clinical disorders. The flower buds and bark of magnolia trees especially have great medicinal value and are used independently and as part of many therapeutic formulae.1, 2

Here are some of the ways in which magnolia benefits us.


Strengthens The Digestive System

The bark of magnolia has been used for digestive problems since ancient times. The constituents of magnolia bark (magnolol and honokiol) help balance the release of acetylcholine, a digestive chemical that signals the muscles in the stomach to contract and move food through the digestive tract. Magnolia acts as a natural muscle relaxant and promotes the smooth functioning of the stomach, small intestine and colon. The bark is also used for treating appetite loss, gastroenteritis, vomiting, abdominal distension and diarrhea.3

Aids Weight Loss

Magnolia supplements can help to suppress appetite, which in turn reduces snacking between meals and overeating. They also regulate cortisol levels in the body, thus helping to maintain a healthy body weight. Cortisol is associated with weight gain, blood sugar regulation issues, memory problems and a host of other stress induced disorders. A clinical trial study has indicated that obese people who eat in response to stress may benefit from taking a dietary supplement with magnolia extracts.4


Improves Oral Health

According to studies, magnolia bark extracts contain chemicals that kill bacteria which cause bad breath (halitosis) and tooth decay. Magnolia extract also has a strong antibacterial effect on a group of bacteria known to cause cavities.5, 6, 7

Curbs Respiratory Issues

Magnolia has long been used to alleviate various respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, coughing, excessive phlegm and even asthma. Magnolia was found to help in the body’s natural production of adrenal steroids (hormones with anti-inflammatory properties), thereby relieving inflammation and preventing asthmatic attacks.8, 9


Helps In Cancer Prevention

Honokiol is a bioactive natural product derived from magnolia. Honokiol appears to be a promising natural agent for cancer prevention and therapy. It targets the specific mechanisms that cancer cells employ to thrive and spread inside the body – in effect, preventing the spread of cancerous cells.10, 11

Reduces Anxiety

Magnolia reduces anxiety and stress by soothing the mind and lowering hormone release in the body. Numerous animal studies have demonstrated that magnolol and honokiol found in magnolia can act as an anti-anxiety and anti-stress agent in lower doses.12


Treats Alzheimer’s Disease

Studies on Alzheimer’s disease reveal depleted levels of acetylcholine (an organic chemical) in a patient’s brain. Magnolia can upregulate the production of acetylcholine levels in the brain, offering potential benefits for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Honokiol and magnolol compounds in magnolia prevent deterioration of the brain cells. They also help to enhance brain cell growth and protect brain cells from damage.13, 14, 15


The dosage of magnolia depends on the conditions being treated. The Institute of Traditional Medicine suggests a dosage of 3–9 grams of magnolia bark in decoction (a method of extraction of dissolved chemicals from the bark of the magnolia tree) for various digestive system disorders.16


While the herb is safe at recommended dosages, there is some toxicity at very high doses. So avoid large doses. Never use magnolia along with alcohol or sedative medication as it can cause drowsiness. Pregnant women should refrain from using magnolia extracts and supplements – they can cause contractions in the uterus and might lead to a miscarriage.17, 18