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Magnolia Flower

Latin: Flos Magnoliae

Origin: There are about 80 species of trees and shrubs Magnolia, of the family Magnoliaceae; native to North and Central America, the Himalayas, and eastern Asia. They are valued for their large and fragrant white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers and frequently handsome leaves and conelike fruits. Some are important garden ornamentals; others are local timber sources; and in the hands of the Chinese, some are used as decongestant herbs.

They have evergreen or deciduous, alternate smooth-margined leaves. The flowers, usually cuplike and fragrant, are located at the branch tips and have three sepals, 6 to 12 petals arranged in two to four series, and many spirally arranged stamens. The numerous simple ovaries in the centre later form a conelike fruit. The seeds, usually reddish, often hang pendulously by slender threads.

A well-known Asian specie of the genus Magnolia is the machaka magnolia Iiliflora Desr., a four-metre shrubby tree that has purple blossoms with white interiors and brownish fruits. The bud of this tree is used by the Chinese as the herb here. It is mainly cultivated in Henan, Anhui, Sichuan and other provinces. The herb is collected in early spring when the bud is not in blossom, dried in the sun and cleared of stalks.

Properties: Pungent in flavor, warm in nature, it is related to the lung and stomach channels.

Functions: Pungent and warm for dispersion and aromatic for moving about, with its floating effect, the herb is good at dispersing pathogenic wind and clearing nasal passage. It is an important herb to treat rhinopharyngitis (inflammation of the nasopharynx) with turbid discharge.

Applications: 1. The herb is used in combination with dahurian angelica root, xanthium and other herbs for dispersing wind and clearing passage, to treat wind-cold type of rhinopharyngitis with turbid discharge, headache and nasal obstruction; and wit peppermint, xanthium and other herbs for dispersing wind-heat, clearing passage and relieving pain, to treat wind-heat type of rhinorrhea with turbid discharge and headache.

2. To treat wind-cold affected by exopathogens, headache and nasal obstruction, the herb is used in combination with ledebouriella root, dahurian angelic root and other herbs for dispersing wind-cold.

Dosage and Administration: 3-10 g.

Wrapped in a gauze for decoction.

Cautions on Use:


Reference Materials:


Toxic or Side Effects:


Modern Researches: With its astringing effect, magnolia flower can protect nasal mucosa and alleviate inflammation. Its infusion or decoction has the effect of inflamation anesthesia. Its extract with water has the effect of lowering blood pressure. Its decoction can excite uterine smooth muscle, promote intestinal movement and inhibit various kinds of pathogenic bacteria. Its essential oil (volatile oil) has sedative and analgesic effects.

For self protection, the outer skin (bark) of many plants contains essential oil, which in turn has elements that serve as an immediate chemical defense against herbivores and pathogens. How? There is an element called hydroxynitrile glucoside in essential oil. This element will release toxic hydrogen cyanide by endogenous plant glucosidase upon tissue disruption (see Anne Vinther Morant, Kirsten Jorgensen, Charlotte Jorgensen, Suzanne Michelle Paquette, Raquel Sanchez-Perez, Birger Lindberg Moller, and Soren Bak, "beta-Glucosidases as Detonators of Plant Chemical Defense," Phytochemistry Vol. 69, Issue 9 (June 2008), pp. 1,795-1,813).

Glucosidase is a catalyzing enzyme that improves healthy functions of our body. It is a lipase that decomposes fat; it can also check inflammation and improve memory (see Mikako Sakurai, Masayuki Sekiguchi, Ko Zushida, Kazuyuki Yamada, Satoshi Nagamine, Tomohiro Kabuta and Keiji Wada, "Reduction in memory in passive avoidance learning, exploratory behaviour and synaptic plasticity in mice with a spontaneous deletion in the ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase L1 gene," European Journal of Neuroscience Vol. 27, Issue 3 (February 2008), pp. 691-701).

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