Michelia alba is a small to medium-sized tree, growing
to a height of 4 to 6 meters or more. Leaves are oblong, acuminate, up to 20 centimeters long, glossy green above, pale below. Flowers are white, elongated, bell-shaped, with thin, leathery, and narrow petals, emitting a strong sweet fragrance.
- Cultivated for its flowers
and used for making floral necklaces or the perfuming of clothes in
storage. Also used to scent hair oils.
- Extraction of oil from M. alba by enfleurage method yielded a light yellow oil an aromatic oil with an odor similar to fresh flowers, with indole (1H) (35.5%) as its main composition. Steam distillation yielded a colorless oil with an odor similar to boiled M. alba flowers; its main component was linalool (66.92%). Hexane extraction yielded a transparent oil with a similar but more pungent odor similar to fresh flowers; its major compounds were 2-methyl butanoic acid and linalool (33.01% and 28.92%, respectively). (see study below) (2)
- GC/MS/DS analysis of essential
oil obtained by steam-distillation of flowers yielded 24 constituents: methyl 2-methylbutyrate, campbene, β-pinene, α-phellandrene, β-myrcene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, ocimene, △3-carene, o-cymene, α-cubebene, cis-linalool oxide, α-ylangene, trans-linalool oxide, β-cubebene, linalool, cis-caryophyllene, β-selinerie, δ-cadinene, trans-carveol, methyl, eugenol, β-bisabolene, methyl isoeugenol, isoaristolene. (4)
- Study of flower essential oil for volatile compounds yielded 78 compounds representing 93-98% of overall volatiles identified. Thirty-three of the compounds
were isoprenoids comprising 30-50% to total volatile compounds, the rest were fatty acid derivatives, benzenoid, phenylpropanoid and other hydrocarbon compounds. Major compounds were dihydrocarveol, linalool, butanoic acid-2-methyl, methyl ester and cyclohexane, 1-ethenyl-1-methyl-2,4-bis (1-methylethenyl). (5)
- Study of leaves yielded 21 pure substances, including aporphines, -anonaine, -norushinsunine, -ushinsunine, -N-acetylanonaine, oxoaporphines, liriodenine, oxoxylopine, sesquiterpene lactones, michelenolide, and costunolide. (8)
- Study of leaves yielded (-)-N-Formylanonaine (1), (-)-oliveroline (2), (+)-nornuciferine (3), lysicamine (4), (+)-cyperone (5), (+)-epi-yangambin (6), ficaprenol-10 (7), pheophytin a (8), aristophyll C (9) and michephyll A (10). (11)
- Bitter, pungent, warm.
- Studies have shown antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, tyrosinase inhibiting, anti-asthmatic, cytotoxic properties.
- Infusion of flowers used as vaginal wash.
- In Chinese medicine, promotes the flow of qi; relieves cough.
- Used for cough, leucorrhea, abdominal distention, prostatitis, sunstroke.
• Rituals / Ornamentals: Flowers are used as religious offerings or used in making garlands.
• Aromatherapy: An ideal ingredient for aromatherapy products.
• Perfume: Essential oil used in making highly prized perfume; also used in tea-perfuming.
• Aromatic Oil Extraction: Study reports on the chemical constituents in M. alba flower oil extracted by steam distillation, hexane extraction, and enfleurage method. Study suggests flower oil extracted by enfleurage method, using developed buffalo fats, has a desirable quality of aromatic oil, which should meet the high demands of the aromatherapy market. (see constituents above) (2)
• Extraction of Scents and Essential Oil: Study reports on the extraction of scents and essential oils from M. alba with water, steam, water-steam distillation and cold enfleurage using palm stearin and hot enfleurage using palm oil, hexane and petroleum ether extractions. Yields of essential oil extractions ranged from 0.199 to 0.225%. By GC-MS analysis, linalool was the major component of oils, and indole, linalool, and phenylethyl alcohol were the major component of the absolutes. (3)
• (-)-N-Formylanonaine / Human Tyrosinase Inhibitory / Antioxidant / Leaves: Tyrosinase is the first and rate limiting enzyme in the synthesis of melanin pigments for coloring hair, skin, and eyes. Study isolated a natural product, (-)-N-formylanonaine from the leaves of M. alba. It was shown to inhibit mushroom tyrosinase with IC50 of 74.3 µM, with tyrosinase and melanin reducing activities in human epidermal melanocytes without apparent cytotoxicity to human cells. The compound also showed antioxidant activities on DPPH assay, reducing power and chelation of metal ions. (6)
• Antimicrobial / Essential Oil / Flowers and Leaves: Study evaluated the chemical and biological properties of essential oils in fresh M. alba flowers and leaves. Linalool was the dominant leaf essential oil at 76.6%; other major leaf constituents were farnesol (5.5%), ß-elemen (3.7%) and nerodiol (2.2%). Flower and leaf extracts showed growth inhibition of tested bacteria; the least inhibited was Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Candida albicans was more susceptible to the leaf extract while Fusarium oxysporim was more susceptible to the dichlormethane flower extract. (7)
• Inhibitory Effect on Matrix Metalloproteinases Expression / Application in Preventing Photoaging: Study showed Michelia alba inhibited collagenase activity and UVB-induced MMPs. Michelia alba treatment may prevent UVB-induced extracellular matrix damage by inhibiting expression of MMP-1 and MMP-3. Study suggests an application in preventing photoaging. (9)
• Antibacterial / Propionibacterium acnes / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the in vitro antibacterial activity of 22 essential oils from Thai medicinal plants against 5 strains of Propionibacterium acnes. Michelia alba was one of four that showed strongest antibacterial activity. (12)
• Cytotoxic Constituents: Study of methanol extract of leaves of M. alba yielded one new chlorophyll, michephyll A (a novel furanone) and 28 known compounds. (-)-anonaine was the major constituent and showed cytotoxicity against HeLa cells. (14)
- Flowers and seeds in the cybermarket.