Plum Dragon Herbs

Hou Po (Magnolia Bark)


Magnolia Bark is an aromatic herb of acrid and bitter flavor, giving it part of its Qi regulating and dispersing properties. Warm and drying in nature, this herb enters the Spleen, Lung, Stomach, and Large Intestine meridians. Hou Po is classified as a warm and bitter herb and is commonly used to regulate the qi, resolve phlegm, and dry dampness. The bark of the plant is used for medicinal purposes and is believed to have the following properties and characteristics:

  • Regulates the qi: May help to regulate the flow of qi and alleviate symptoms of bloating, indigestion, and constipation.

  • Resolves phlegm: May help to resolve phlegm and reduce symptoms of cough, phlegm production, and chest tightness.

  • Dries dampness: May help to dry dampness and alleviate symptoms of joint pain, edema, and fatigue.

In TCM, Hou Po is commonly combined with other herbs to enhance its effectiveness and treat a variety of health conditions, such as digestive issues, respiratory infections, and skin irritations. It is typically administered in the form of decoction, powder, or pill. It is considered safe for most individuals, but it is advisable to consult a licensed healthcare provider before using this herb, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a medical condition.

High Quality Hou Po: What does it look like?

High-quality Hou Po, also known as Magnolia Bark, is a dried bark from the Magnolia officinalis tree, which is native to China. The bark is light brown to dark brown in color, and is characterized by its rough, furrowed surface and distinct aroma. The quality of Hou Po is evaluated based on factors such as the thickness, color, aroma, and texture of the bark.

A high-quality Hou Po should have a thick and firm texture, with an even color and a strong, fragrant aroma. The bark should not be brittle, and should not have any holes, cracks, or signs of decay. The fragrance should be fresh and pleasant, without any musty or moldy odors.

How is Hou Po prepared and processed?

Hou Po, also known as Magnolia Bark, is native to China and is typically found in the southeastern provinces, including Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi. It grows in the forests and mountainous regions and is often cultivated for its medicinal properties. In addition to China, Hou Po is also found in other regions of Asia, including Japan and Korea.

Hou Po prefers a warm and humid climate and can be grown in regions with a temperate or subtropical climate. It thrives in well-drained, fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Hou Po needs full sun to partial shade to grow properly and requires regular watering, especially during dry periods.

Cultivation of Hou Po involves planting the tree in a suitable location that meets the growing conditions listed above. It is important to provide adequate space for the tree to grow and to prune it regularly to maintain its shape and size. The tree typically takes several years to mature and begin producing bark that can be harvested for medicinal use. After several years, the bark is harvested in the spring or early summer and dried for use in traditional Chinese medicine formulations.

Hou Po (Magnolia Bark) should be collected only from mature trees that are at least 10 years old.  After harvesting, the bark is dried in the sun or in a warm, well-ventilated area until it is completely dry and brittle. The dried bark is then sliced into thin pieces, usually about 3 to 5 cm in length. In some cases, the sliced bark is sterilized to remove any contaminants and to increase its shelf life. The sterilized bark is then packaged in airtight containers and stored in a cool, dry place until ready for use.

In TCM, Hou Po is often used in decoction form, meaning that it is boiled in water to extract its medicinal properties. The decoction is then taken internally to help treat a range of health conditions, including digestive problems, cough, and colds. It is important to only use Hou Po in amounts recommended by a qualified traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, as excessive use can cause side effects.

Popular Recipe for Hou Po

Here is a recipe for using Hou Po in traditional Chinese medicine:

  1. Hou Po tea: Boil 2-3 slices of Hou Po in a cup of water for 10-15 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink it 2-3 times a day to help relieve digestive problems, cough, and colds.

  2. Hou Po decoction: Combine Hou Po with other herbs, such as Zhi Ke (bitter orange) and Sheng Jiang (ginger root), to make a decoction that can help relieve digestive problems. To make the decoction, boil 1-2 slices of Hou Po, 4-5 slices of Zhi Ke, and 2-3 slices of Sheng Jiang in 2 cups of water for 20-30 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink it 2-3 times a day.

It’s important to note that this is a general guideline and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or herbalist to determine the right dosage and usage for you.

Safety Precautions for the use of Hou Po

When using and handling Hou Po (Magnolia officinalis), it is important to take the following precautions:

  1. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional before using Hou Po, as it may interact with certain medications or have contraindications for certain health conditions.

  2. Do not use Hou Po in large doses, as it may cause adverse reactions such as gastrointestinal discomfort, skin irritation, and allergic reactions.

  3. Avoid using Hou Po during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

  4. Keep Hou Po out of reach of children and pets.

  5. Store Hou Po in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture.

  6. If you experience any adverse reactions after using Hou Po, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.

  7. It should be used with caution if you have a history of allergies or skin sensitivities, as it may cause skin irritation.

  8. It should also be used with caution if you have a history of gastrointestinal conditions, as it may cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

  9. Hou Po may also cause drowsiness or dizziness, so use caution if you will be driving or operating heavy machinery after consuming it.

Additional Information about Hou Po

Common Names: Hou Po (Magnolia Bark); Magnolia officinalis; Magnoliae Officinalis Cortex

Properties: Bitter, acrid, warm, aromatic

Channels Entered: Large Intestine, Lung, Spleen, Stomach


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