Magnolia bark is a traditional herbal medicine used to treat anxiety and features of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with high blood pressure, insulin resistance and poor glucose tolerance, raised triglyceride levels, reduced levels of ‘good’ HDL-cholesterol and storing excess weight around your waist (central obesity).
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Magnolia bark and blood pressure
Metabolic syndrome causes increased inflammation throughout the body and leads to high blood pressure by suppressing the production of nitric oxide so that blood vessels constrict.
Bark extracts from Magnolia officinalis and Magnolia obvata helps to overcome both these effects by acting as a powerful antioxidant, to suppress inflammation, and by stimulating the production of nitric oxide. Magnolia bark contains several protective antioxidants, such as magnolol and honokiol which protect blood vessels from damage and help them become more elastic.
In one study, involving hypertensive rats, long-term treatment with magnolia bark honokiol significantly lowered systolic blood pressure (upper reading) and relaxed the aorta, as well as reducing its stiffness and increasing its elasticity.
Experimental evidence also suggests that honokiol may help to protect against the kidney damage associated with high blood pressure.
Another way in which Magnolia bark extract may lower blood pressure is by lowering levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. This effect was confirmed in a group of healthy but overweight women who were gaining weight as a result of stress. Taking a Magnolia bark blend lowered salivary levels of cortisol hormone so they no longer gained weight.
Magnolia bark and heart problems
Magnolia is known as Flower of the Heart as it is so useful for treating heart muscle problems such as heart rhythm abnormalities and cardiomyopathy, and reducing blood stickiness and unwanted blood clots. Much of the research is preclinical, in rats, however, or is based on traditional use only.
Magnolia bark and diabetes
Preclinical studies show that Magnolia bark reduced blood glucose levels (in diabetic rats) and improved pancreatic and kidney function.
Magnolia bark dose
A typical dose for treating anxiety and stress is 250mg magnolia bark extract, two or three times a day.
Magnolia bark side effects
At usual therapeutic doses, magnolia bark extract appears to be well tolerated. Very high doses may thin the blood leading to bleeding, and may be toxic to the kidneys, however.
Check with a doctor before taking magnolia bark extracts if you are taking any medications.
Stop using Magnolia at least 2 weeks before undergoing planned surgery.
As with all herbal medicines, do not take during pregnancy or breast-feeding unless specifically advised by your doctor.
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