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Hum Psychopharmacol. 2017 May;32(3). doi: 10.1002/hup.2595. Epub 2017 May 18.

Is there a potential of misuse for Magnolia officinalis compounds/metabolites?

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Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit, School of Life and Medical Sciences, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK.



Magnolia bark contains magnolol, metabolized to tetrahydromagnolol and honokiol, with both GABA-ergic/cannabimimetic activities, hence of possible attraction to vulnerable individuals/recreational misusers.


A literature review, assessment of related anecdotal online Magnolia misuse's reports and an overview of Magnolia products' online acquisition possibilities has been here described.


No peer-reviewed papers about Magnolia abuse/misuse/dependence/addiction were identified. Conversely, from a range of websites emerged potentially 3 groups of Magnolia misusers: (a) subjects with a psychiatric history already treated with benzodiazepines, being attracted to Magnolia bark as a "natural sedative"; (b) polydrug misusers, ingesting Magnolia with a range of other herbs/plants, attracted by the GABA-ergic/cannabimimetic activities; (c) subjects naive to the misusing drugs' scenario, perceiving Magnolia as a natural dietary supplement/weight-control compound.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper commenting on the possible Magnolia derivatives' potential of misuse. Magnolia's recent increase in popularity, mainly as a sedative, may be arguably due to its peculiar pharmacological properties/acceptable affordability levels/virtually worldwide favorable legal status and customers' attraction to a product being perceived as "natural" and hence somehow "safe." Future/potent/synthetic magnolol and honokiol structural analogues could however contribute to increasing the number of synthetic GABA-ergic/cannabimimetic misusing compounds.


Novel psychoactive substances; THM; herbal highs; honokiol; magnolol; synthetic cannabinoids

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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