What is Magnolia Bark Extract?

Caitlin Kenney

Magnolia bark extract is a fluid alcohol extracted from the bark of a magnolia plant and frequently administered as an herbal medicine. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine called houpu or hou po for hundreds of years, and it is recognized worldwide for its medicinal properties. This extract is used to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms, especially upset stomach, allergic reactions, impaired breathing, anxiety, weight loss, and halitosis. The active ingredients in the medicine are present in almost all species of magnolia, but the Magnolia officinalis, or Houpu magnolia, is the most frequently used.

Magnolia bark extract can be used to treat bad breathe.
Magnolia bark extract can be used to treat bad breathe.

The primary active ingredients in magnolia bark extract are magnolol and honokiol, biphenol compounds, which are thought to reduce stress and stress-related symptoms and inhibit cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress and flight or fight responses, as well as weight gain, diabetes, and immunosuppression. The extract also contains eudesmol, an essential oil with possible antioxidant advantages. Antioxidants repair and prevent cellular oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which can lead to increased cell strength, increased immune function, and decreased risk of heart disease and cancer. The magnolia flower is sometimes used to treat sinus congestion and headaches.

The magnolia flower has been used to treat headaches.
The magnolia flower has been used to treat headaches.

Honokiol is present in magnolia bark at about 1 to 5%, and magnalol is present at roughly 2 to 10%. Typical doses use 3 to 9 grams of bark in hot water. Other traditional formulas include pin yin for constipation and congestion, which incorporates different proportions of magnolia bark extract, rhubarb, and chih-shih depending on its targeted function. Pin yin formulas for digestive system weakness tend to mix magnolia bark with ginger and licorice. Respiratory issues are often treated with formulas mixing it with cinnamon twig.

Magnolia bark extract is thought to kill most halitosis-associated oral bacteria within 30 minutes.
Magnolia bark extract is thought to kill most halitosis-associated oral bacteria within 30 minutes.

Magnolia bark is also used to treat halitosis, or bad breath, because of its antibacterial properties and fragrance. The antibacterial activity of the extract may also help to prevent tooth decay and is thought to kill most halitosis-associated oral bacteria within 30 minutes. Magnolol can also help prevent plaque build-up by inhibiting the enzyme glucotransferase. Some chewing gums and breath mints are manufactured with the extract to promote fresh breath and tooth health.

Magnolia bark extract can prevent tooth decay.
Magnolia bark extract can prevent tooth decay.

This extract usually comes from cultivated trees, typically in China. It is usually marketed in capsule or tablet form, especially in the Western world. No adverse effects have been associated with the use of normal dosages of magnolia bark extract. The herbal medicine should not be taken, however, with any drugs that act on the central nervous system, such as barbiturates, alcohol, or mood altering medications. Tuhoupu, an herb made from manglietia, is sometimes used as a substitute for magnolia bark.

Magnolia bark extract may aid in weight loss.
Magnolia bark extract may aid in weight loss.
Magnolia bark extract is used to treat constipation.
Magnolia bark extract is used to treat constipation.

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Discussion Comments


Do not operate machinery because it can make you wobbly.


I use Honokare tincture by the US company Zortho Research. It's expensive but effective (for me)!


I live in Surrey. Where can I find some?


I know researchers are getting really excited about magnolia bark extract for dental hygiene. I heard on the news the other day about this study where the scientists had people chew on mints that had magnolia extract in them after a normal meal, and found that it killed something like 60 percent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes of the meal.

They also found that the extract seems to go after the certain kinds of bacteria that cause cavities, and it doesn't seem to have any side effects like staining the teeth or anything, and so it looks like it really could be a great dental hygiene supplement.

I've never used it, personally, though I do have a friend who chews magnolia bark herb extract gum sometimes -- I think she gets it at her health food store.

Has anybody reading this actually tried it? I'd be really curious to hear about your experience.


@lightning88 -- Smart you. The only thing that I've heard about as far as magnolia officinalis extract side effects go is that it can make you kind of drowsy, and that it interacts with other things that affect the nervous system -- alcohol, drugs, etc.

Every package that I see says that you shouldn't operate heavy machinery when taking magnolia bark extract too, but it doesn't say exactly why.

Oh, also, I know that pregnant women shouldn't take it, because it can cause uterine contractions and possibly lead to a miscarriage, and people who are about to undergo surgery also shouldn't take it, since it can mess with your nervous system when combined with the anesthesia.

Hope that helps!



I had also heard that magnolia bark extract is really fantastic for your heart, and has really powerful antioxidant properties too. One article I read said that magnolia bark supplements offered over 1,000 times the antioxidants than regular vitamin E, and so are very good for your health as well as keeping you young.

I can only imagine how powerful that would be if you took it in conjunction with other potent herbs, like with boswellia extract or phellodendron extract (now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure they actually have magnolia phellodendron extracts...)

I haven't heard too much about side effects though, which makes me kind of leery. Anything that is that powerful is going to have some kind of side effect on your body, and I really like to learn about all the possible side effects of a supplement before I even think about taking it, amazing antioxidant or not.

Do you have any information about this?


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