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Magnolol is a bioactive compound extracted from Magnolia officinalis, the scientific name of a particular species of magnolia native to China. The compound is one of the active ingredients in magnolia bark, the other being its sister compound honokiol. Magnolol has antifungal properties and may also display antibacterial, anti-allergic, and antioxidant properties.
Although interest in magnolia has experienced an increase in recent years, magnolia bark has been used for some 2,000 years in traditional Chinese and Japanese medicine. Ancient use indicated that the bark was effective for various ailments related to the stomach and intestines. These reported uses of magnolol include improving diarrhea, relieving menstrual cramps, and treating gas and bloating. The calming effect on the stomach of the compound has also been associated with helping to alleviate nausea and vomiting.
Other supposed beneficial uses of the supplement cover a varied range of ailments. One popular use of the supplement is for the use of lung-related conditions such as asthma and shortness of breath. The anti-inflammatory effects of the compound have also been associated with treating inflammatory-related medical conditions such as arthritis and gout.
Another suspected benefit of consuming magnolol is that the compound may be able to inhibit production of cortisol. This stress-related hormone is thought to encourage fat storing in the body and contribute to weight gain. Cortisol has also been associated with diabetes, memory problems, and other stress-related medical conditions.
Magnolol has begun receiving more attention as a possible therapeutic treatment for a number of different medical conditions. A study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicated that the active ingredients in the bark extract were capable of killing oral bacteria responsible for causing bad breath and cavities. Another study in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry indicated that the substance might be able to act as an anticancer agent, destroying only cancer-infected cells while sparing healthy tissue.
Traditionally, magnolol is consumed by making a decoction, boiling several grams of the dried bark in hot water to make a tea. Users of the resulting tea have described it as bitter tasting, and it may require some getting used to. Pills containing a powdered form of magnolia or an extract of the active ingredients are also available. Magnolia bark is generally thought to be safe for daily usage, though the current scientific knowledge of the drug makes it difficult to determine an appropriate dosage. Based on traditional usage, recommended dosages of the herb typically range from 3 to 9 grams when used in a decoction and from 250 to 750 milligrams when provided in pill form.