Magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis) is Asia’s answer to treating general stress and anxiety. The Chinese and Japanese have long been ingesting Honokiol as a relaxant (at very low doses) for 2000 years. In Traditional Chinese medicine (where it is known in TCM as houpu or hou po) it has been used since 100 A.D. for treating "stagnation of qi" (low energy) as well as a variety of syndromes, such as digestive disturbances caused by emotional distress and emotional turmoil.

Small doses of Magnolia bark can help to "de-stress" you without major side effects. The only known side effect is drowsiness, which is usually noticed when taking larger doses. This effect is compounded when taken with alcohol. However, when compared to pharmaceutical agents such as Valium, honokiol appears to be as effective in its anti-anxiety activity and is not nearly as powerful in its sedative ability. So, Magnolia bark can be used to help control the effects of everyday stressors without the tranquilizing side effects of pharmaceutical agents.

Other interesting facts about Magnolia bark are that it is also shown to be a great antioxidant and anti-tumor agent. Japanese researchers have determined that the magnolol and honokiol components of Magnolia officinalis are one thousand times more potent than alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) in their antioxidant activity, thereby offering a potential heart-health benefit. The research, done mainly in Japan, but duplicated in the United States in 2003, also showed the compound to be a potent and non-toxic anti-tumor agent when injected directly into cancer tumors.

Magnolia bark is also becoming associated with aiding in weight loss. It is one of the main ingredients in the latest weight-loss hype, Cortislim, that is because when the body is stressed it increases the production of the hormone cortisol. Reducing stress will reduce or rather help maintain the proper balance of cortisol.

There are many arguments on whether cortisol is the true culprit in causing weight gain or the inability to loose weight in certain areas. I believe that stress can definitely aid in weight gain, but not just because of cortisol, but because of all the other conditions that stress causes, like depression (which can cause an increase in appetite), lack of exercise, whether it be because of lack of time or lack of energy to get motivated. I suggest if you really want to get a better understanding about cortisol’s role in weight loss that you do a bit of research yourself and decide what is best for you.

Whether you are considering Magnolia bark for stress control or weight control, the ancient Chinese secret is definitely worth giving some thought to, but it is important that you consult your doctor or herbalist to get an understanding of what dose would be best for you.

This article is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. You should promptly seek professional medical advice if you have any concern about your health or physical condition, and you should always consult your physician before following the recommendations presented here.  


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