In Chinese herbalism, magnolia bark, hou po, is associated with the stomach, lungs, spleen, and large intestine. It is used to treat menstrual cramps, abdominal pain, abdominal bloating and gas, nausea , diarrhea, and indigestion . Injections of magnolia bark extract are said to cause muscle relaxation. It is also used in formulas to treat coughing and asthma.
The bark is said to make the qi descend and is used for symptoms of disorders thought to move upward in the body.
Research suggests that compounds found in magnolia bark may have mild antibacterial and antifungal properties.
These studies are in their preliminary stages, however, and have been limited to test tube research. Magnolia flower, xin yi hua, is associated with the lungs. It is used to treat chronic respiratory infections , sinus infections, and lung congestion. Its main function is to open the airway. Little scientific research has been done on the magnolia flower.
Magnolia bark and root are also used occasionally in Western herbalism, although they are not major healing herbs. At one time, magnolia root was used to treat rheumatism, and was thought to be superior to quinine in treating chills and fever. It is not used much today. Russian herbalists use an oil extracted from the flowers and young leaves to treat hair loss and as an antiseptic on skin wounds. In homeopathic medicine a tincture of magnolia flower is a minor remedy for asthma and fainting.
Magnolia bark is most commonly used in the following formulas:
• Agastache: for treatment of stomach flu and gastrointestinal upset. • Apricot seed and linum: for treatment of chronic constipation and hemorrhoids.
• Bupleurum, inula and cyperus: for treatment of stressrelated gastrointestinal disturbances. All these formulas can be made into teas or are commercially available as pills or capsules. Magnolia flower is most commonly used in xanthium and magnolia formula.
It is used to relieve sinus congestion associated with a yellow discharge and to treat allergy symptoms such as runny nose. This formula can be made into a tea or is available in commercially produced capsules.
American herbalists dry magnolia bark and root and pound it into a powder or make a tincture that is taken several times daily. Russian herbalists soak the bark in vodka.
Chinese herbalists recommend that magnolia bark not be used by pregnant women and that magnolia flower be used with caution if the patient is dehydrated.
There are no unwanted side effects reported with normal doses of any of the different uses of magnolia.
Large quantities of magnolia preparations, however, havebeen reported to cause dizziness. In addition, allergic reactions to the pollen from magnolia trees are not unusual.