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Phellodendron amurense

Phellodendron Amurense (PA), also known as CorkTree, is a chinese herb used to historically treat different forms of inflammation and bone pain. There is not too much Western research on this herb.

Our evidence-based analysis on phellodendron amurense features 18 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Research Breakdown on Phellodendron amurense

1Sources and Components


Phellodendron amurense (Henceforth PA) is tree from the overarching family Rutaceae. It is more specifically known as 'Amur Cork Tree' and is known as one of the 50 fundamental herbs in traditional Chinese medicine.[1]

A supplement known as 'Cortex Phellodendri' may be sold and, if the species is unspecified, may be a combination of both the species P. Amurense as well as P. Chinensis.[1] These plants are similar for the most part, but the Chinensis species possesses a higher berberine (360% higher) and anti-oxidant (28% higher) content while the species Amurense possesses a higher total protoberberine alkaloid (25% higher) and flavonoid (11% higher) content; Chinensis contains mostly only Berberine in the protoberberine alkaloid class.[1][2][3] There is not too much practical difference between the two, although only Chinensis is implicated in slowing down intestinal motility.[1]


As a herbal supplement, Phellodendron Amurense contains a variety of compounds including:

2Interactions with fat metabolism

Phellodendron amurense (PA) has been noted to have beta-2-adrenergic agonistic properties[8] with an EC(50) 50% higher than the plant which bears Synephrine (denoting more of a dose needed to achieve the same effects).

3Joint and Bone health

Phellodendron amurense (PA) has been shown in humans to alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis[9] perhaps through alleviating inflammation's (IL-1a) degradative effects on sulfated glycosaminoglycan in joints.[10]

The component berberine has been shown to promote osteoblast differentiation, leading it to possible be an adjunct treatment for bone health.[11] 

4Interactions with Neurology

Phellodendron Amurense has been implicated in preserving neural function at 100-200mg/kg bodyweight (IP injections) in rats administered scopolamine, an anticholinergic research toxin.[12] Benefit was seen with both Phellodendron as well as one of its components, Berberine, in isolation.[12] 200mg/kg bodyweight Phellodendron showed similar effects to the group not given scopolamine, and the group given Phellodendron without the toxin did not experience enhanced effects; suggesting a recovery of deficit but not unilateral improvement.[12]

5Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial effects

Many anti-oxidant effects of PA are mediated vicariously through an increase in in vivo glutathione levels via stimulation of the Glutathione S-Transferase enzyme via a peptide found in PA.[13]

The anti-microbial activity of Phellodendron Amurense is most likely due to its protoberberine content and high Berberine content relative to other herbs.

6Interactions with Hormones


In a screening of medicinal herbs for estrogenicity, Phellodendron Amurense failed to exert any estrogenic or antiestrogenic effects in concentrations below 1mg/mL.[14]

7Nutrient-Nutrient Interactions

7.1Magnolia Officinalis and Relora

A patented combination of Phellodendron Amurense and Magnolia Officinalis is known as 'Relora', known for its properties of stress and anxiety reduction.[15][16][17] Although preliminary, it shows promise in reducing overeating related to stress, an effect similar to that of Rhodiola Rosea.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d Chen ML, et al. Chemical and biological differentiation of Cortex Phellodendri Chinensis and Cortex Phellodendri Amurensis. Planta Med. (2010)
  2. ^ Li CY, et al. A rapid and simple determination of protoberberine alkaloids in cortex phellodendri by 1H NMR and its application for quality control of commercial traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions. J Pharm Biomed Anal. (2006)
  3. ^ Chan CO, et al. Analysis of berberine and total alkaloid content in cortex phellodendri by near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) compared with high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with ultra-visible spectrometric detection. Anal Chim Acta. (2007)
  4. ^ a b c d Zhang Q, et al. Simultaneous determination of jatrorrhizine, palmatine, berberine, and obacunone in Phellodendri Amurensis Cortex by RP-HPLC. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. (2010)
  5. ^ a b Yang Q, et al. Determination of bioactive compounds in Cortex Phellodendri by high-performance liquid chromatography. J AOAC Int. (2010)
  6. ^ Miyake M, et al. Limonoids in Phellodendron amurense (Kihada). Yakugaku Zasshi. (1992)
  7. ^ Steinmann D, et al. Bioguided isolation of (9Z)-octadec-9-enoic acid from Phellodendron amurense Rupr. and identification of fatty acids as PTP1B inhibitors. Planta Med. (2012)
  8. ^ Wang H, et al. A system for screening agonists targeting beta2-adrenoceptor from Chinese medicinal herbs. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. (2009)
  9. ^ Oben J, et al. Phellodendron and Citrus extracts benefit joint health in osteoarthritis patients: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J. (2009)
  10. ^ Kim JH, et al. Effect of Phellodendron amurense in protecting human osteoarthritic cartilage and chondrocytes. J Ethnopharmacol. (2011)
  11. ^ Lee HW, et al. Berberine promotes osteoblast differentiation by Runx2 activation with p38 MAPK. J Bone Miner Res. (2008)
  12. ^ a b c Lee B, et al. Phellodendron amurense and Its Major Alkaloid Compound, Berberine Ameliorates Scopolamine-Induced Neuronal Impairment and Memory Dysfunction in Rats. Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. (2012)
  13. ^ Lee JH, et al. Isolation and characterization of a novel glutathione S-transferase-activating peptide from the oriental medicinal plant Phellodendron amurense. Peptides. (2006)
  14. ^ Kim IG, et al. Screening of estrogenic and antiestrogenic activities from medicinal plants. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. (2008)
  15. ^ Kalman DS, et al. Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on stress levels in healthy women: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutr J. (2008)
  16. ^ Sufka KJ, et al. Anxiolytic properties of botanical extracts in the chick social separation-stress procedure. Psychopharmacology (Berl). (2001)
  17. ^ a b Garrison R, Chambliss WG. Effect of a proprietary Magnolia and Phellodendron extract on weight management: a pilot, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Altern Ther Health Med. (2006)
  18. Oben J, et al. Phellodendron and Citrus extracts benefit cardiovascular health in osteoarthritis patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Nutr J. (2008)