What Is Magnolia Bark?
Magnolia bark refers to the bark of the magnolia tree — a native of East and Southeast Asia. This tree belongs to the Magnoliaceae family and can grow to a mature height from 16 ft up to 80 ft. You can easily identify the magnolia tree from its large and fragrant flowers that often reach 8 inches in diameter. Along with the bark, sometimes these flowers and leaves are also used for making medicine.
The scientific name of magnolia bark is Magnolia officinalis. The Chinese also call this herb "Houpu" — referring to the thick (hou) bark that comes from the unadorned (pu) part of the tree. Its other names are magnolia cortex, cucumber tree, honoki, and swamp sassafras.
What Is Magnolia Bark Extract Used For?
There are many potential health benefits of magnolia bark offered by two key micronutrients — magnolol and honokiol — present in it. You can easily find this herb in pill form in most medical and drug stores.
Among its various uses, these are the most-researched magnolia bark benefits:
May relieve stress and anxiety. Studies show that taking supplements with magnolia and phellodendron bark can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Magnolia has also been found useful in reducing anxiety in women between 20 and 50 years old. Many animal trials have also been done on honokiol, which shows its anti-anxiety effects on the subjects.
May improve sleep. Many use magnolia bark extract for getting better sleep at night or as a remedy for insomnia. Studies done on mice show that magnolia's active ingredient magnolol can reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
May support weight loss. Early research shows that magnolia bark extract could help those who have a habit of overeating when stressed to lose weight. This is due to its stress-relieving properties.
May aid digestion. Magnolia bark can improve the health of your digestive system. Per some animal studies, the extract of this herb improves the levels of gut bacteria that aid in healthy digestion. Studies done on magnolia’s active constituents, magnolol and honokiol, also show that they can help food move more easily through the digestive tract.
May lower the chances of cancer. More and more studies are coming up that support the use of honokiol in cancer prevention and treatment. While more large-scale human studies are needed, current research shows that honokiol has the potential to prevent tumor growth in skin, liver, breast, colon, brain, and other organs.
May offer other health benefits. Both the key polyphenols in magnolia bark — magnolol and honokiol — have antioxidant properties. As a result, they can help to reduce inflammation in your body and decrease your chances of having conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes.