Magnolia bark’s health benefits for sleep, anxiety, and more


Asian art is rich with images of a tranquil, natural world. Clear spring waters and blossoming trees, none as lovely as the beautiful magnolia. Imagine gazing on these images as you lie down for sleep, like a lullaby for your eyes. We now know that the sweet magnolia tree gives us a natural, herbal “lullaby” that really can help you into a deep, restful sleep.

Chinese physicians have known for centuries that the dried bark of a magnolia tree is a treasure-house of good health, including as a safe, gentle sleep aid.  So today western mainstream medicine is deeply involved in teasing out the why and wherefore of its powers.

Our searches and findings tell us that, in addition to restful slumber, magnolia bark is said to aid in the treatment or prevention of:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Bad breath
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Inflammation
  • Stroke

And there’s more. The bark of this lovely tree has been shown to:

  • Support weight loss
  • Stimulate the digestive system
  • Protect against cancer
  • Reduce stress

That’s a lot of benefits to verify via the long and winding road to 100 percent scientific proof. But scores, likely hundreds of natural health aids, known for centuries, have traveled that road to success.

Let’s see what’s in magnolia bark’s engine room that drives so many positive results.

How does magnolia bark work?

Magnolia bark is rich in bioactive compounds that are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, and anti-allergenic.

That’s a pretty powerful front line of defenses. Right off the bat, we’ve got the fiery devil of inflammation prevented or eliminated. We’ve got barricades against incoming pathogens, and killers of any pathogens that slip through our first line defenses.

Today, we’ll look at magnolia bark’s ability to soothe away your anxiousness…and help you get a great night’s sleep.

A sleep aid. We’ve seen magnolia bark work wonders as a sleep promoter. No surprise here, given its ability to relax the mind and body, and to ease anxiety. Here’s the inside story.

A GABA machine. Magnolia bark stimulates production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms our excitatory neurons after they’ve reacted to a stressful event or thought.  A boost in GABA activity helps reduce anxiety, which is itself a huge health benefit.

This increase in GABA is also important for sleep—people with reduced GABA activity are prone to insomnia and other sleep problems. Research shows at least one bioactive compound in magnolia bark is as effective in calming anxiety and aiding sleep as the widely used class of drug called diazepams, but without the risks of dependency or side effects.

But there’s so much more!

A powerful antioxidant. Compounds in magnolia bark act as antioxidants, lowering levels of inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain and throughout the body. It’s generally agreed that inflammation is a major contributor to virtually every known disease and antioxidants are a great way to dowse its flames.

Activates cannabinoid receptors. Cannabinoids are compounds we synthesize in the body to ease pain, anxiety, mobility problems, inflammation, and sleep problems. We depend on specialized cannabinoid receptors throughout the body to deliver those health benefits and more. Magnolia helps to jumpstart them, reducing inflammation, improving mood, subduing anxiety, and more—all of which also help get you headed to dreamland.

An adrenaline inhibitor. Adrenaline release is essential to our fight-flight responses, protecting ourselves from internal or external stress and threats. Magnolia bark helps reduce adrenaline levels when they’re no longer needed, and may suppress too high levels of cortisol, another significant stress-related hormone, strongly associated with increased anxiety, depression, irritability, and other symptoms that can interfere with sleep.

A blues beater. Magnolia bark regulates the activity of both serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that are important to mood. If you’re feeling blue, magnolia on its own and in combination with ginger can help suppress the symptoms of mild depression and put a smile back on your face.

Bad breath beater. Magnolia bark may even help fight bad breath. A study gave healthy volunteers either Listerine mouthwash or a mint containing magnolia bark after eating lunch. Their saliva samples showed that magnolia bark was as effective as Listerine in destroying several types of bacteria known to cause bad breath.

Magnolia’s bonus benefits for overall health

Like so many natural health helpers, magnolia bark delivers boatloads of good health throughout our bodies. Researchers are finding positive preliminary results in protecting against and helping push back against various cancers, cognitive decline, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that magnolia bark comes without any known side effects…which is not often the case among Big Pharma’s powerful prescription meds.

Magnolia dosage—how much?

Here are dosages that have been investigated in scientific studies.

For sleep problems, anxiety, and stress, typical magnolia bark supplement doses are 200-400 mg/day. It’s recommended that users begin with the lowest suggested dose, and gradually increase as needed.

Individual ideal dosages will vary depending on body weight, other health conditions, and treatment needs.

I hope I’ve given you plenty of reasons to give magnolia bark some serious consideration. If you’re interested, be sure to talk to your doctor before making any changes.

Have happy days and happy dreams.



Last Updated: March 5, 2020
Originally Published: November 15, 2018