Magnolia is actually a broad term that encompasses more than 200 different species within the Magnoliaceae family of flowering plants. Native to East and Southeast Asia, particularly China, this ancient type of flower has been around for more than 100 million years, predating even the evolution of bees. Some types of magnolia are also endemic to North America, Central America, and parts of South America. The hardy nature of the shrubs and trees on which these flowers grow have allowed it to survive and thrive in harsh conditions over so much evolutionary time, and it has developed a unique nutrient and organic compound composition over that time as well, representing potentially powerful health benefits for humans.
The flowers and bark of magnolia plants have been praised for their multiple medicinal applications, some of which are based in traditional medicine, while others have been revealed through modern research into the precise chemical components of the flower, its extracts, and the composition of the bark.
Health Benefits Of Magnolia
Health benefits of magnolia include:
The bark of magnolia trees can be peeled from the tree, boiled, rolled, steamed, and allowed to dry into an herbal supplement or tincture. This bark-derived herb has been linked to preventing certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. One of the active compounds in magnolia, magnolol, is able to prevent the spread or increase of prostate cancer cells. Although research is in its early stages, many experts believe that magnolia bark extracts can also exert beneficial effects in terms of preventing/treating leukemia and colon cancer.
The volatile components found in magnolia flowers and bark are also considered soothing or relaxing agents, reducing inflammation and muscle tension when consumed. When it comes to menstrual cramps and discomfort, magnolia supplements are often recommended, as they can provide rapid relief, as well as improve mood and prevent the emotional peaks and valleys associated with the pre-menstrual period.
For people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or showing risks of other cognitive disorders, magnolia can be a very powerful strategy to increase cognition. The magnolol found in magnolia actually stimulates acetylcholine levels in the brain, which is what amyloid plaque in the brain can reduce. Honokiol is another of the active organic compounds in magnolia that is linked to increased brain function and neural activity, thereby reducing memory loss and increasing cognition by preventing oxidative stress.
Honokiol, mentioned above, has certain anxiolytic qualities that directly impact the hormonal balance in the body, particularly in terms of stress hormones. By regulating the endocrine system, magnolia is able to reduce anxiety and stress by soothing the mind and lowering hormone release in the body. A similar chemical pathway allows it to help relieve depression as well, by stimulating the release of dopamine and “pleasure” hormones that will turn your mood around in no time!
Magnolia has long been used to relieve certain respiratory conditions, including bronchitis, coughing, excess phlegm, and even asthma. Asthma is a particularly challenging respiratory condition to treat, and typically requires the use of a steroid inhaler. However, magnolia naturally stimulates the corticosteroids in the body to respond to conditions like asthma, thereby relieving that inflammation and preventing asthmatic attacks.
One of the reasons that magnolia has gotten so much press in recent years is its bark’s active compounds’ ability to mimic cortisol, the stress-hormone reducing factor in our body. By acting as cortisol, magnolia can also help the body control its release and management of blood sugar, effectively helping to prevent the development of diabetes. If you already suffer from diabetes, then it can keep your blood sugar levels stable and help you avoid any diabetic episodes.
Promotes Weight Loss
Although magnolia bark can actually increase weight by stimulating food cravings due to its corticosteroid nature, regular magnolia supplements can help to suppress appetite, which can help anyone trying to lose weight and avoid snacking in between meals. Be sure you speak to a professional herbalist or alternative medical professional to get the best advice on which parts of magnolia would best serve your needs.
Improves Liver Health
Along with stimulating the lymphatic system and increasing the level of toxins being eliminated from the body, magnolia has also been linked to reducing the build-up of fat around the liver, one of the primary causes of liver failure following excessive alcohol consumption, also called ALD (Alcohol Liver Disease). Researchers have shown magnolia to be a promising remedy for this widespread problem for people who drink excessively and want to retain a high quality of life as they age.