The Houpu Herbal

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Two parts of the magnolia tree has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. These are the bark, called houpu in Chinese, and the flower buds, called xinyi or xinyihua (CMN, 2007). Several species of magnolia are used as sources and they tend to vary according to the Chinese region from which the medicinal parts originate.


The bark, houpu, though, has a more catholic application in traditional Chinese medicine and numerous devious formulations are made of it to treat lung disorders like coughs and asthma and intestinal ones like infections and spasms. Also, the houpu forms a major component of medicines targeting abdominal swellings and edema (Dharmananda, Undated).
The active components of the flower buds lack alkaloids and none have been found to date while aromatics with their decongestant properties like monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes have been abundantly evident (Dharmananda, Undated).
In contrast, the bark, houpu, has a more composite nature and contains numerous carbon compounds. The pleasant fragrance is attributed to two sets of non-alkaloids - the mildly scented biphenols magnolol and honokiol and the strongly scented triterpene eudesmol (Dharmananda, Undated). These latter biphenols and triterpene - magnolol, honokiol and eudesmol - are the main medicinal constituents from the bark houpu. Magnolol (2-11%), honokiol (0.3-4.6%) and eudesmol (>1%) vary from species to species and also from region to region. ...
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