Magnolia Bark Extracts Risks & Benefits
Magnolia bark has been long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a variety of conditions ranging from depression to insomnia and gastrointestinal disorders as well as helping to improve oral health due to its calming, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
The magnolol and honokiol lignans are the major active components. Honokiol helps to maintain the sodium-potassium channel which is important for communication between neurons, it prevents glucose interactions that could damage neurons cells, prevents the formation of necrotic tissues in the brain, and prevents neurotoxicity.
Both compounds block glutamate receptors in studies to prevent glutamate from binding to the NMDA receptor preventing overstimulation, seizures and premature cell death associated with many neurological disorders such as epilepsy, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and mood disorders.
Honokiol may produce a calming and relaxing effect by stimulating the GABA-A receptor, as well as possibly impacting sleep cycles to help with insomnia by binding to the benzodiazepine site of the GABA-A receptor of neurons. This compound also activates genes controlled by the Nrf2 molecule which helps to protect against oxidative stress.
Proponents suggest that magnolia bark may help to reduce cavities, gum disease, bad breath, help to improve brain function, anxiety, depression, insomnia (especially in menopausal women), weight loss, blood pressure, seizures, diabetes, inflammation, pain, asthma, fatty liver disease, and fight certain cancers with very few adverse effects being reported. However, skeptics will point out that there is insufficient evidence to support many of the suggested benefits and it may cause constipation, bleeding and/or interact with anticoagulant medications.
A lot of the potential benefits have been observed in animal studies which do not always translate to well humans. This is not an FDA-approved supplement, and the safety profile is also relatively unknown due to the lack of human trials, thus the potential for side effects is not known and you should consult with your doctor about potential risks based on your health and possible drug interactions.