Honokiol: A review of its pharmacological potential and therapeutic insights

Phytomedicine. 2021 Sep:90:153647. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2021.153647. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


Background: Honokiol is a pleiotropic compound which been isolated from Magnolia species such as Magnolia grandiflora and Magnolia dealbata. Magnolia species Magnolia grandiflora is used in traditional medicine for the treatment of various diseases.

Purpose: The objective of this review is to summarize the pharmacological potential and therapeutic insights of honokiol.

Study design: Honokiol has been specified as a novel alternative to treat various disorders such as liver cancer, neuroprotective, anti-spasmodic, antidepressant, anti-tumorigenic, antithrombotic, antimicrobial, analgesic properties and others. Therefore, this study designed to represent the in-depth therapeutic potential of honokiol.

Methods: Literature searches in electronic databases, such as Web of Science, Science Direct, PubMed, Google Scholar, and Scopus, were performed using the keywords 'Honokiol', 'Health Benefits' and 'Therapeutic Insights' as the keywords for primary searches and secondary search terms were used as follows: 'Anticancer', 'Oxidative Stress', 'Neuroprotective', 'Antimicrobial', 'Cardioprotection', 'Hepatoprotective', 'Anti-inflammatory', 'Arthritis', 'Reproductive Disorders'.

Results: This promising bioactive compound presented an wide range of therapeutic and biological activities which include liver cancer, neuroprotective, anti-spasmodic, antidepressant, anti-tumorigenic, antithrombotic, antimicrobial, analgesic properties, and others. Its pharmacokinetics has been established in experimental animals, while in humans, this is still speculative. Some of its mechanism for exhibiting its pharmacological effects includes apoptosis of diseased cells, reduction in the expression of defective proteins like P-glycoproteins, inhibition of oxidative stress, suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-6), amelioration of impaired hepatic enzymes and reversal of morphological alterations, among others.

Conclusion: All these actions displayed by this novel compound could make it serve as a lead in the formulation of drugs with higher efficacy and negligible side effects utilized in the treatment of several human diseases.

Keywords: Anti-inflammatory; Antioxidant; Honokiol; Magnolol; Meuroprotective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biphenyl Compounds* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lignans* / pharmacology
  • Magnolia* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology


  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Lignans
  • Plant Extracts
  • honokiol