How Magnolia Bark fights Cancer.
Cancer cells use numerous tactics to avoid detection by the body’s immune system. The following are some of the ways in which cancer cells thrive:
1. The process of cell death (apoptosis) is missing in cancer cells, which allows unregulated cell growth.
2. Cancer stem cells self-renew and resist chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
3. Angiogenesis -the formation of new blood vessels, a process controlled by chemicals produced in the body that stimulate blood vessels or form new ones. Angiogenesis plays an important role in the growth and spread of cancer as it allows cancer cells to spread (metastasis).
Magnolia Bark/Honokiol has a wide range of applications that target the specific mechanisms cancer cells employ in order to grow and spread inside the body. Its anticancer properties include the following:
Few drugs cross the blood brain barrier (BBB). The BBB is a semi-permeable, highly selective membrane; it separates the specialized fluid in the brain from the circulatory system. Fortunately, honokiol is able to cross the BBB to attack brain tumors.
Wang X, Duan X, Yang G, et al. Honokiol crosses BBB and BCSFB, and inhibits brain tumor growth in rat 9L intracerebral gliosarcoma model and human U251 xenograft glioma model. PloS one. 2011;6(4):e18490.
As cells get old, they die via a normal process called apoptosis. This system, in which old nonfunctioning cells die off to make space for newer cells, is absent in cancer cells. Because cancer cells do not die, many of the therapies (e.g., chemotherapy drugs) work to induce cell death. Honokiol triggers cell death by activating multiple pathways involved in cell cycle arrest.
Xu H, Tang W, Du G, Kokudo N. Targeting apoptosis pathways in cancer with magnolol and honokiol, bioactive constituents of the bark of Magnolia officinalis. Drug discoveries & therapeutics. 2011;5(5).
Arora S, Bhardwaj A, Srivastava SK, et al. Honokiol arrests cell cycle, induces apoptosis, and potentiates the cytotoxic effect of gemcitabine in human pancreatic cancer cells. PloS one. 2011;6(6):e21573.
Kaushik G, Ramalingam S, Subramaniam D, et al. Honokiol induces cytotoxic and cytostatic effects in malignant melanoma cancer cells. The American Journal of Surgery. 2012;204(6):868-873.
Angiogenesis. Another normal process in cells is the development of blood vessels. In cancer angiogenesis, blood vessels form an irregular pattern. Honokiol is a nutrient that interrupts abnormal angiogenesis by targeting various signaling pathways.
Steinmann P, Walters DK, Arlt MJ, et al. Antimetastatic activity of honokiol in osteosarcoma. Cancer. 2012;118(8):2117-2127.
Honokiol regulates signaling pathways to control normal cell cycle proteins activity, such as NF-kB and P53, to inhibit cancer growth.
Fried LE, Arbiser JL. Honokiol, a multifunctional antiangiogenic and antitumor agent. Antioxidants & redox signaling. 2009;11(5):1139-1148.
Dikalov S, Losik T, Arbiser JL. Honokiol is a potent scavenger of superoxide and peroxyl radicals. Biochemical pharmacology. 2008;76(5):589-596.
Cancer cells can be resistant to traditional chemotherapy drugs and radiation therapy. Honokiol is remarkably synergistic; it enhances the effects of traditional cancer treatments by sensitizing cancer cells to the effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapies.
Cheng N, Xia T, Han Y, He QJ, Zhao R, Ma JR. Synergistic antitumor effects of liposomal honokiol combined with cisplatin in colon cancer models. Oncology letters. 2011;2(5):957.
Ponnurangam S, Mammen JM, Ramalingam S, et al. Honokiol in combination with radiation targets notch signaling to inhibit colon cancer stem cells. Molecular cancer therapeutics. 2012;11(4):963-972.
He Z, Subramaniam D, Ramalingam S, et al. Honokiol radiosensitizes colorectal cancer cells: enhanced activity in cells with mismatch repair defects. American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology. 2011;301(5):G929.
An article by Michele Cagan describing some of the research that has been done on honokiol. She wrote:
"When it comes to cancer, there’s more than one way to beat it, so honokiol doesn’t stop at one. Instead, it attacks cancer on multiple fronts, fighting tumors head-on.
It starts by making sure the tumors can’t supply themselves with the nutrients they need to thrive. You see, like all other cells, cancer cells need food and oxygen (among other things) to stay alive. They get their supplies by creating their own blood vessel networks, a process called angiogenesis.
But honokiol simply doesn’t let that happen. An early in vitro study found that honokiol could prevent that angiogenesis, 1 and more. This research also uncovered another anti-cancer power in honokiol’s arsenal: the ability to prevent tumor growth (formally known as antiproliferative activity) in mice with angiosarcoma, an extremely malignant and aggressive cancer that usually grows and spreads alarmingly fast.
Another in vitro study 2 discovered one of the key ways that honokiol helps conquer many types of cancer. It prevents a cancer-sustaining enzyme called PLD (phospholipase D) from doing its job. Left unchecked, PLD keeps cancer cells from dying off (a process known as apoptosis). So when honokiol blocks it, cancer cells die.
Increased PLD activity has been linked to several cancers (breast, kidney and colon, for example) and cancer cell lines (lung, pancreatic, and prostate, to name a few). So honokiol’s ability to rein in this disease-promoting enzyme can have a remarkable effect on any cancer that relies on PLD to survive.
Fight colon cancer without making yourself sicker
Colorectal cancer strikes hundreds of thousands of people every year—often affecting people over 60 years old. And while this form of cancer can be treated successfully using mainstream methods (like surgery and chemotherapy), the treatments themselves can be painful and debilitating.
Honokiol fights and kills many forms of cancer—but studies have shown that it does this without harming healthy cells (unlike many forms of chemotherapy). So researchers investigated honokiol’s effect on one of the most common cancers—colorectal cancer.
One group of researchers studied mice with human colon cancer. They injected the mice with honokiol every other day, and the results were stunning. The honokiol blocked tumor growth without a toxic effect on the mice. In fact, this powerful natural treatment prolonged their lives. 3
Prostate cancer can be complicated, but the real solution is very simple
Prostate cancer takes more than one form, but most mainstream treatments only work on a single, specific form. Honokiol, it turns out, just may be able to treat prostate cancer regardless of the form: androgen status, for example, or p53 status. (Androgen status refers to hormone levels, and p53 is a gene that is sometimes altered in men with prostate cancer.)
An in vitro study found that honokiol effectively caused apoptosis in several kinds of prostate cancer cells, both androgen dependent and independent, as well as cells with varying p53 status.
Bolstered by that success, they progressed their research to an animal study. There, the scientists found that treating mice with honokiol three times a week halted prostate tumor growth. The researchers also found a higher rate of cancer cell death. And more prostate cancer cell death combined with less tumor growth is exactly what you want when fighting this disease.
And unlike the mainstream options—surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy—honokiol did not cause weight loss or any other side effects. 4
Honokiol takes on even ‘incurable’ cancers
B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) is one of the toughest cancers to treat and beat. According to the mainstream medical community, it remains incurable.
But some very insightful researchers refused to accept that. And based on honokiol’s success against other cancer cell lines, they decided to see how well it would work fighting B-CLL cells. Their intuition paid off.
Their in vitro study 5 found that honokiol sets off the death cycle of these cancer cells, and that the extract was more toxic toward the B-CLL cells than healthy cells. On top of that, honokiol also improved the anti-cancer effects of chemotherapy drugs (fludarabine, cladribine, and chlorambucil).
And that’s not the only difficult cancer that honokiol helps conquer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, “For most patients with non-small cell lung cancer, current treatments do not cure the cancer.” And squamous lung cancer fits right into that category. While current mainstream therapies remain largely ineffective, honokiol (at least in lab tests) appears to have a very deadly impact on these cancer cells.
When researchers tested honokiol against squamous lung cancer cells in an in vitro study, their work paid off. The honokiol treatment set off a chain reaction that led to apoptosis, cancer cell death. 6"
1 Bai, X., et al. Honokiol, a small molecular weight natural product, inhibits angiogenesis in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. J Biol Chem. 2003.
2 Garcia, A., et. al. Honokiol suppresses survival signals mediated by Ras-dependent phospholipase D activity in human cancer cells. Clin Cancer Res. 2008; 14(13)
3 Chen, F., et al. Honokiol: a potent chemotherapy candidate for human colorectal carcinoma. World J Gastroenterol. 10(23):3459-3463, 2004.
4 Hahm, E., et. al. Honokiol, a constituent of oriental medicinal herb magnolia officinalis, inhibits growth of PC-3 xenografts in vivo in association with apoptosis induction. Clin Cancer Res. 14(4), 2008.
5 Battle, T. E., et al. The natural product Honokiol induces caspase-dependent apoptosis in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) cells. Blood. 2005.
6 Yang, S. E., et al. Down-modulation of Bcl-XL, release of cytochrome c and sequential activation of caspases during honokiol-induced apoptosis in human squamous lung cancer CH27 cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 63(9):1641-1651, 2002.