Change Font Size

Su B Magnolia

Magnolia, in its many forms from the low-growing stars of Magnolia stellata to the delicate goblets of Magnolia liliflora, is gracing our gardens right now.

It’s been around for over 100 million years, long before humans came on the scene, and yet it is packed with health-enhancing qualities. Chinese medicine has been making use of it for centuries, but it’s been overlooked by Western herbal medicine, whose roots lie in Europe and America, even though we’ve had it in our gardens for many generations.

So what can it offer us, besides delighting our eyes in springtime?

Using its traditional Chinese indications as a starting point, research has shown that a constituent of the bark can prevent the spread of prostate cancer, and shows promise in the treatment of colon cancer and leukaemia. The same constituent, among others, improves brain function and may help to alleviate or prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. And it helps to stabilise blood sugar and reduce appetite, making it a valuable tool in the management and prevention of diabetes. That’s almost an all-in-one remedy for the ailments of the developed world.

Traditionally, various parts of the plant are also used to reduce anxiety and depression, relieve menstrual cramps, soothe coughs and asthmatic attacks, and help maintain the health of your liver.

It’s not a herb you should use for too long, or in too high a dose, or during pregnancy; these are powerful actions which are not appropriate for everyone

But it is another example of an ancient answer to some very modern questions. How many more answers may be closer to home than we think?

Editor: Su Bristow has an excellent herb handbook that can be purchased from her website or Amazon

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
More From This Author...

Comment With Facebook