Magnolia tree, Hou Po (Chinese) - Magnolia Officinalis (Magnoliaceae)

Medicinal Use of Magnolia, Hou Po (Chinese) – Magnolia Officinalis (Magnoliaceae)


Deciduous tree growing to 80 ft (25 m). Has aromatic bark, large leaves, and fragrant creamy-white flowers.

Habitat & Cultivation

Native to China, magnolia grows wild in mountainous regions. It is now planted in many parts of the world as an ornamental tree. The bark is stripped in spring.

Part Used



Magnolia bark contains alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, and lignans. The lignan, honokiol, found in the bark of several magnolia species appears to have antitumor and antianxiety activity. Another lignan, magnolol, has antibacterial and anti-anxiety activity.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Magnolia bark is aromatic, warming, and pungent. It relieves cramping pain and flatulence, and is taken for abdominal distension, indigestion, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. It is now also used to treat anxiety, chronic stress, and lowered mood, and as a neuroprotective remedy that aids memory and mental function.


Research suggests that magnolia bark extract is antimicrobial and may have specific use as an oral antiseptic to control bacteria and relieve bad breath (halitosis). Two Italian clinical studies found that magnolia extract helped relieve anxiety and support positive mood in menopausal women. A 2012 Korean study concluded that magnolia may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Related Species

North American species, notably M. grandiflora, are used in much the same way as magnolia, with traditional uses including for fever and rheumatism.


Do not take during pregnancy.