This information describes the common uses of Magnolia officinalis, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Magnolia bark extract, Magnolol, Houpu magnolia, Saiboku-to

How It Works

Magnolia bark extract has shown anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects in laboratory and animal studies, but clinical trials are needed to test its effects in humans.

Magnolia officinalis is an herb commonly used in traditional medicine. The bark contains active compounds, honokiol and magnolol that may reduce inflammation, anxiety, or depression. A number of laboratory studies also suggest that bioactive compounds from magnolia bark extract may have anticancer properties, but no studies have been conducted in humans. In addition, this botanical has been shown to inhibit several enzymes or pathways by which many drugs are metabolized. Therefore, clinical trials are needed to determine safety and effectiveness.

Research Evidence

  • To prevent cancer
    Laboratory studies suggest magnolia bark extract has anticancer properties, but clinical trials are needed to confirm these effects as well as safety.
  • To treat diabetes
    Magnolia bark extract and its active compounds lowered blood sugar in the lab, but human studies are needed.
  • To prevent inflammation
    Animal studies have shown that magnolia bark extract reduces pain and inflammation.
  • As an antibacterial agent
    Lab studies suggest magnolia bark extract may reduce the bacterium that causes acne and some types of infections, but no studies have been done in humans.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking diabetes medications: Magnolia bark extract may enhance their effects.
  • You are taking sleep or anxiety medications: Magnolia bark extract may increase their effects.
  • You are taking blood thinners: Magnolia bark extract may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • You are taking cytochrome P450 substrate drugs: Magnolia bark extract may alter the effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking P-glycoprotein substrate drugs: Magnolia bark extract may alter the effects of these drugs.
  • You are taking UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) substrate drugs: Magnolia bark extract may alter the effects of these drugs.

Side Effects

  • Skin rash has been reported with the use of cosmetics containing magnolia bark extract.

Because so few studies have been conducted in humans, other side effects are currently not known. However, lab studies suggest that this botanical may interact with a number of drugs. Therefore, clinical trials are needed to determine safety and side effects.