Magnolia Bark and Its Fragrance Components.
- Botanical Information and Description of Magnolia officinalis.
- Brief History and Ancient Notes of Magnolia Bark.
- Magnolia Bark and Its Fragrance Components.
- Properties and Indications of Magnolia Bark.
- Common uses and Application of Magnolia Bark Preparations.
- Magnolia Bark:Administration,Suggestions and Safety.
- How Search engine think about Magnolia.
- Research Update:Magnolia Bark,Magnolol,Honokiol and Constituents.
- Photo Gallery of Magnolia officinalis.
Magnolia Bark and Its Fragrance Components.
The unmistakable pleasant fragrance of magnolia bark is primarily the due to the presence of two groups of compounds: biphenol compounds (magnolol and honokiol are dominant that have a mild fragrance, and an essential oil (eudesmol is the main component; that has a stronger fragrance. In samples of magnolia bark from different areas of China, the content of magnolol and honokiol were in the range of 2-11% and 0.3-4.6% respectively. Eudesmol usually comprises just under 1% of the bark; this oil is also a component of atractylodes, an herb which has related therapeutic effects and a somewhat similar strong fragrance (in the rhizome that is used medicinally).
Magnolia bark is classified in the modern Chinese Materia Medicas along with a relatively small group of herbs that are said to resolve dampness through aromatic penetration. The fragrance is said to awaken the spleen to distribute dampness, and the fragrance can also penetrate through damp accumulations to assist in breaking them up and allowing the fluids to flow freely. The main herbs in this category are various cardamons (e.g., caodoukou, baidoukou, sharen, caoguo), one of the atractylodes (cangzhu), eupatorium (peilan), and pogostemon (huoxiang). Of this group, magnolia bark, atractylodes, and pogostemon are the most extensively used today, often appearing together in formulas aimed at relieving digestive disturbances.
The biphenols and eudesmol (a triterpene) are the main active constituents that confer the desired pharmacological effects. These ingredients are reported to have anxiolytic effects), to enhance steroid production by the adrenal cortex, inhibit fungi and bacteria, have antioxidant actions, reduce inflammation and pain; they may protect against seizures and act as an antidote for intoxication by organophosphorus pesticides. Magnolia bark also contains a small amount of alkaloids, mainly magnoflorine, magnocurarine, and salicifoline, but these are not considered important to the clinical actions.
Scientists have determined that "honokiol" and "magnolol", two chemicals found in Magnolia Bark, are up to 1000 times more potent than Vitamin E in antioxidant activity. These two active compounds are thought to contribute to the primary anti-stress and cortisol-balancing effects of the plant. Numerous animal studies have demonstrated honokiol to act as an anti-stress agent at lower doses. Magnolol, a compound isolated from the cortex of Magnolia officinalis, has been found to possess anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic activity.
Several species of Magnolia are used as source materials, though Magnolia officinalis is the primary source reported for the bark and Magnolia lactiflora is the primary source reported for the flower. The active components of the magnolia materials have been identified. The flower buds mainly contain monoterpene and sesquiterpene aromatics that are understood to provide the decongestant effect for which they are utilized. Alkaloids have not been detected in the flower buds as yet. The unmistakable pleasant fragrance of magnolia bark is primarily due to the presence of two groups of non-alkaloid compounds: biphenols (magnolol and honokiol are dominant) which have a mild fragrance, and an essential oil with eudesmol as the main component (about 95% of this oil) that has a stronger fragrance.
In samples of magnolia bark from different areas of China, the content of magnolol and honokiol were in the range of 2-11% and 0.3-4.6% respectively. Eudesmol (a triterpene) usually comprises just under 1% of the bark. The biphenols and eudesmol are understood to be the main active constituents that confer the desired pharmacological effects. These ingredients are reported to have anxiolytic effects, to enhance steroid production by the adrenal cortex, inhibit bacteria and pathogenic fungi, have antioxidant actions, reduce inflammation and pain; they may protect against seizures and act as an antidote for intoxication by organophosphorus pesticides. The anxiolytic effect of magnolia has been relied upon in production of a commercial product called Sublimiss, made from magnolia bark extract, and described as a substitute for kava (an anxiolytic) and St. John's Wort (an antidepressant).
Magnolia bark also contains a small amount of alkaloids, mainly benzylisoquinoline alkaloids-magnoflorine, magnocurarine, and salicifoline, with traces of oxoushinsunine, anonaine, michelabine-but these alkaloids are not considered important to the clinical actions. They make up only about 1% of the bark, with magnocurarine, the most potent of the alkaloids, at less than 0.1% in most commercial samples. The alkaloids may confer some of the antispasmodic effect of magnolia bark when used in high dose decoctions to alleviate bronchiole spasms and intestinal spasms. Magnocurarine was investigated as a potential muscle relaxant drug in East Asia. A recent evaluation indicates that magnocurarine comprises about 0.2% or less of the commercial magnolia bark.
A substitute sometimes used in China for magnolia bark (houpu) is tuhoupu, from species of Manglieta. These are plants closely related to magnolia; the bark of some Manglieta species grown in certain areas has considerably more of the magnocurarine than the magnolia bark routinely traded. There are also some species of Magnolia with high magnocurarine levels, but not Magnolia officinalis.
Quantitities of the Alkaloids ingested:
Magnolia bark is typically administered either by decoction (usual dosage range of 3-9 grams for a one day dose) or in prepared forms, in which the powdered or extracted herb may be included, but in quantities significantly less than the 3-9 grams per day in decoction. If one assumes that the total alkaloid content of magnolia bark is extracted, consumed, and absorbed, then the total magnocurarine dose at the upper level of magnolia bark use (9 grams) with highest content of magnocurarine (0.2%) is about 18 mg. This would usually be consumed over two divided doses, so 9 mg per dose.
Turbocurarine, when used as a drug, is administered in IV drip, with a dose of about 25-100 mg infused within about one minute, and then repeated as needed every 5 minutes, to yield dosing of up to several hundred milligrams over a period of as little as half an hour. Clearly, the drug level in the bloodstream will be markedly higher by these doses of alkaloid by IV drip than the orally consumed decoction, being absorbed slowly. Little is known about the extraction efficiency of the magnolia alkaloids, nor their absorption efficiency, so it is difficult to make good estimates of how large the safety margin is. For those who use high dosage decoctions, the substitute herbs with high levels of magnocurarine might be of some concern.
In finished ready-to-consume products made with magnolia bark powder or dried how water extracts, the amount of magnocurarine would be far less than in the hypothetically efficient decoction described above because of the lower amount of magnolia used. Therefore, a high safety margin is to be expected.
The insurance companies are paid by manufacturers to cover marketed formulas rather than decoctions given by Chinese medicine practitioners. Unless a specialized extraction process is utilized to extract the magnolia alkaloids, and unless these are given in high doses, the prepared forms are not a threat because of their alkaloid content. Further, the concern about renal toxicity from the 1993 Belgian report has turned out to be based on an unrelated herb and no further consideration of magnolia has been given in this regard.
Because the regulators (such as members of Health Canada) have no way to know which species of magnolia is used, or how it is prepared, or how much of the alkaloids are present, it is reasonable for there to be some lingering concerns about the alkaloid content and use of the products for pediatric applications. The products currently on the market may be entirely safe with respect to their magnolia content, yet there is not a convenient means of screening products for alkaloid content. In defending the Chest Relief formula from the warnings issued by Health Canada, Efrem Korngold and Harriet Beinfield made the estimation that the product delivered only "0.008 mg of the alkaloids" per dose, which is a miniscule amount.
This review of magnolia should provide additional reassurance that the levels of magnolia alkaloids are safe, but it also brings a caution against the unrestrained use of substitute species until they have been adequately tested. The substitutes may have similar therapeutic actions, and may even prove more effective in Chinese medical practice by virtue of having higher amounts of certain active components, but they may also present potentially toxic levels of some ingredients when the high dose preparations are utilized.
The magnolia bark on the international market has been uniform over the years, while substitution (as with Manglietia species) is only being tried out locally in some Chinese clinics. However, it is important for herb importers to observe their supplies and make sure that substitutes are not obtained for distribution unless tests are conducted on alkaloid levels. The insurance companies and government agencies, including Health Canada, need to re-evaluate the basis for the concerns they raised, and ought to change restrictions (if any are to be imposed) on use of Magnolia officinalis, which is not, in fact, high in alkaloids.
No reports of adverse reactions to magnolia bark have appeared in any of the publications of the regulatory agencies, nor in medical reports from China. Traditional formulas with magnolia are routinely used in the form of dried hot water extracts. Pinellia and Magnolia Combination (Banxia Houpo Tang) is an example of one that is frequently prescribed with magnolia bark as a main ingredient. Indications for the formula include esophageal spasms and various nervous syndromes indicating an effective antispasmodic and anxiolytic activity. In two recent studies conducted in China, the formula was found beneficial in treating swallowing difficulty in the elderly, improving the swallowing reflex in those who suffered from aspiration pneumonia, stroke, and progression of Parkinson's disease. The safe use of the formula in the elderly who are in poor health, as indicated by these clinical reports, further demonstrates the safety of magnolia bark. The manufacturers of the over-the-counter herbal remedy Sublimiss specifically list the included components of honokiol, magnolol, magnoflorine, and magnocurarine, and report excellent safety for clinical evaluations conducted for them (unpublished data).
It appears unlikely that magnolia will present a risk for consumers. To the contrary, when herb product manufacturers are forced to find alternatives to magnolia bark, there is no reason to believe that the replacements will be any safer. Magnolia bark has a long history of extensive use, and its apparent safety should be welcomed.
- Magnolia officinalis,Its Bark Magnolia Cortex,Its Fragrance Components and Magnolia Alkaloids,Magnolol,Honokiol.
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