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Magnolia secret

Research on Magnolia's active constituents


Named after French botanist Pierre Magnol, a French botanist considered one of the most important of the botanical explorers of his time [13], Magnolia is an ancient genus [10], that has been part of a group of many medicinal plants commonly used as traditional remedies, for reducing stress and anxiety among other uses [11].

Different parts of Magnolia have been used as part of traditional herbal medicines, for example, the bark and/or seed cones of the Magnolia tree have been used in traditional herbal medicines in Korea, China, and Japan [14].

Now other studies on this plant show that the properties exerted by some of the active constituents found in Magnolia can go even further, being the possible source of future medicines, let's see some of them. Image: See credits under ref. [9] below.


Family: Magnoliaceae

Genus: Magnolia

Common name: Houpu Magnolia, Magnolia bark



MAGNOLIAPancreatic cancer are one of those types of cancer on which survival rates are extremely low, mainly because this type of cancer has an asymptomatic progression and sometimes it is only found in very advanced metastatic stages for which the therapies are either not effective or not sufficient to eradicate completely this terrible illness. Image: See credits under ref. [15] below.

But are there other therapeutic agents able to improve this clinical outcome? Let's have a look at some of the natural therapeutic agents on which pharmaceutical companies and Oncology centers are putting their interest.

One of these natural therapeutic agents seems to be Magnolia Officinalis/Grandiflora, an oriental medicinal herb rich in Honokiol, one of its main biologically active constituents responsible for some of the health benefits exerted by this herb.

Magnolia Officinalis/Grandiflora was the subject of a study done at the Mitchell Cancer Institute from the University of South Alabama, on which it was investigated how effective Honokiol from this herb was on two pancreatic cancer cell lines, MiaPaCa and Panc1, alone and in combination with the standard chemotherapeutic drug, gemcitabine [1].

The results were quite a discovery, as Honokiol from Magnolia Officinalis/Grandiflora "exerted growth inhibitory effects on both the pancreatic cancer cell lines by causing cell cycle arrest at G(1) phase and induction of apoptosis".

In the same study, Honokiol also potentiating the cytotoxic effects of gemcitabine. These findings are quite a discovery as they demonstrate, for the first time, the growth inhibitory effects of honokiol in pancreatic cancer.



In a recent study performed on Honokiol and how could Honokiol induce apoptosis (natural programmed cell death) on human non-Hodgkin lymphoma Raji cells, it was found that Honokiol from Magnolia Officinalis/Grandiflora significantly inhibited the growth of Raji cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner, something which raises the hopes to find drugs that will possibly make good use of this properties, hopefully soon.



In the same line of investigations, researchers from the Department of Hygienics, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, at Gifu, Japan, found during the investigation of the inhibitory effect of Magnolia obovata bark ethanol extracts on human fibrosarcoma HT-1080 cells invasion, how Magnolol and Honokiol inhibited the activity of MMP-9, which may have been responsible, in part, for the inhibition of tumor cell invasion [8].

Disclaimer: The information presented on this website is not intended to prescribe or give in any way or form medical advice, recommend or diagnose. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more info.



[1] Honokiol arrests cell cycle, induces apoptosis, and potentiates the cytotoxic effect of gemcitabine in human pancreatic cancer cells. Arora S, Bhardwaj A, Srivastava SK, Singh S, McClellan S, Wang B, Singh AP. Department of Oncologic Sciences, Mitchell Cancer Institute, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama, United States of America.
[2] Comparison of antioxidant abilities of magnolol and honokiol to scavenge radicals and to protect DNA. Zhao C, Liu ZQ. Department of Organic Chemistry, College of Chemistry, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China.
[3] Modulation of GABAA-Receptors by Honokiol and Derivatives: Subtype Specificity and Structure-Activity Relationship. Taferner B, Schuehly W, Huefner A, Baburin I, Wiesner K, Ecker GF, Hering S.
[4] Honokiol inhibits LPS-induced maturation and inflammatory response of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells. Li CY, Chao LK, Wang SC, Chang HZ, Tsai ML, Fang SH, Liao PC, Ho CL, Chen ST, Cheng WC, Chiang CS, Kuo YH, Hua KF, Hsu IC. Department of Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Sciences, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
[5] Honokiol isolated from Magnolia officinalis stimulates osteoblast function and inhibits the release of bone-resorbing mediators. Choi EM.
[6] Honokiol: an effective inhibitor of tumor necrosis factor-α-induced up-regulation of inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production in human synovial fibroblasts. Li J, Shao X, Wu L, Feng T, Jin C, Fang M, Wu N, Yao H. State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, First Affiliated Hospital, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310003, China.
[7] Honokiol-induced apoptosis of human non-Hodgkin lymphoma Raji cells and its possible mechanism. Article in Chinese Chen W, Lin GW, Zhang Q. Department of Hematology, Guangdong Second Provincial People's Hospital, Guangzhou 510317, China
[8] Inhibitory effect of magnolol and honokiol from Magnolia obovata on human fibrosarcoma HT-1080. Invasiveness in vitro. Nagase H, Ikeda K, Sakai Y. Department of Hygienics, Gifu Pharmaceutical University, Gifu, Japan.
[9] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).
[10] Wikipedia article Magnolia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
[11] Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. Talbott SM1, Talbott JA, Pugh M.
[12] Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, Part 1: a review of preclinical studies. Sarris J1, McIntyre E, Camfield DA.
[13] Wikipedia article Magnolia under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
[14] Therapeutic applications of compounds in the Magnolia family. Lee YJ1, Lee YM, Lee CK, Jung JK, Han SB, Hong JT.
[15] Pixabay image under Public Domain License CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).