Honokiol

Health benefits: cellular health, metabolic health, immunity, neurological health, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-anxiety and possibly anti-aging

Honokiol is one of several polyphenols that have been isolated from the bark and seed cones of the magnolia tree. Polyphenols are compounds that typically give plants their color and flavor and, in addition, act as antioxidants. Magnolol is another one of these polyphenols in the magnolia species and shares some of honokiol’s biological properties.

Honokiol however is turning out to be somewhat of a Swiss Army knive because it appears to have numerous cellular health actions: supports cellular health, metabolic health, immunity, neurological health, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory support for normal and exercise-induced inflammation as well as anti-cancer. These qualities can be beneficial in diseases like osteoarthitis. Furthermore, Honokiol’s anti-anxiety benefits can help relieve occasional stress and anxiety.

Preliminary work with Honikiol in cancers has shown that honokiol does what a cancer therapy should do. It turns off cell division in some cancer cells, and in others it induces them to kill themselves (a process called apoptosis). Honokiol also promotes antiangiogenisis – that is, stopping the formation of new blood vessels that feed a tumor, effectively starving the tumor. Honokiol has exhibited these properties so far in the following cancers: myeloma, leukemia, melanoma, sarcoma, colon, lung, bladder, ovarian, esophageal, breast, and prostate (androgen-dependent and androgen-independent forms). One study found that prostate cancer cells that failed to respond to hormone withdrawal treatment underwent apoptosis (cell death) when honokiol was given. More recently anti-metastasis properties have been observed as well. Keep in mind though that there is no research that claims that Honokiol is the magic cure for all cancers.

Recently researchers found that Honokiol increases levels of SIRT3 in mice.  This appears to be the first ever report describing a pharmacological activator of Sirt3. Exercise and calorie restriction are the only other known methods to increase SIRT3. The SIRT3 protein is part of the family of sirtuins which have intrigued researchers for ages because of their relation to longevity and health. Sirt3 is located and active in the nucleus and mitochondria where it maintains proper functioning of cell metabolism and possibly functions as a mitochondrial tumor suppressor.

Honokiol appears nontoxic and therapeutic levels of honokiol can be achieved by taking the compound orally, since it isn’t destroyed by the digestive system. And, unlike most polyphenols, it can cross the blood-brain barrier.