In the Chinese Medicine Materia Medica, the bark of the Magnolia tree is called Hou Pu. Hou Pu is the highly aromatic bark stripped from the stems, branches and roots of the magnolia tree. The first mention of magnolia bark as a Traditional Chinese medicinal substance was recorded around 100 C.E. It is used frequently by acupuncturists and practitioners of Oriental medicine in Chinese herbal formulas. These herbal remedies include formulas to resolve complaints such as abdominal distension and pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Magnolia bark‘s therapeutic actions include the promotion of qi in the gastrointestinal region. For the acupuncture patient, this translates to relief of stomach fullness, bloating and discomfort.
These properties are illustrated in the Chinese herbal formula Hou po wen zhong tang also known as Magnolia bark decoction for warming the middle. This medicinal formula features magnolia bark in addition to six other ingredients. The prescription remedies the diagnosis of damp-cold injuring the spleen and stomach. This clinical picture can arise most commonly from the overindulgence of foods and drink that are uncooked and cold, especially during colder months of the year. The nature of cold is to congeal, and when this condition strikes, the qi of the digestion becomes obstructed. Symptomatically, the patient may experience fullness, loss of appetite, fatigue in the extremities and diarrhea. The herbs in this formula work synergistically to move the obstruction, warm the digestion and dry the inappropriate stagnation of fluids in the gastrointestinal tract.
Magnolia bark is an invaluable asset in the Chinese herbal arsenal to restore poor digestion due to lack of movement from cold stagnation. A licensed and experienced Oriental medicine provider brings a lot to the table in the relief of digestive complaints. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs and dietetic recommendations can be a powerful combination to combat the symptoms and to rectify the underlying issues surrounding digestive discomfort.