In a previous article I wrote about gathering bark from the Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) tree to make medicine. Known as “He Huan Pi” in Chinese medicine, mimosa bark is renowned for its ability to “anchor the heart”, meaning that it helps stabilize emotions, brings gentle calm to the spirit and is helpful for those with anxiety, insomnia, symptoms of post traumatic stress and panic. In this article I will write about the amazing virtues of He Huan Hua, the flowers of the Mimosa tree. He Huan Hua translates literally as full happiness flowers.
This beautiful tree is native to Asia, is planted in many parts of the US and is an escaped cultivar growing wildly throughout the country. Because it is so ubiquitous, it makes for great wildcrafting medicine. Right now I have a Mimosa tree that is producing several thousand flower blooms. Just sitting under the swaying leaves and flowers is healing enough but gathering the flowers for their healing qualities helps you store up the Mimosa’s energy for the whole year. Unlike rare and protected plants, you can gather the medicine of this plant quite freely. When I gather I simply pluck the flower with its stem and it comes off quite easily.
While the bark is known more for its calming, steadying and “anchoring” attributes, Mimosa flower is known for being more uplifting, energizing and “anti-depressant”. In the Chinese medicine tradition, the calming and mood improving qualities Mimosa were first discussed in the ancient herbal Shennong Ben Cao Jing . Though Chinese medicine has long known about the wonders of this plant, Westerners are still beginning to get acquainted with its strengths.
When I look at plants as medicine I like to think of how the look of the plant influences its medicinal attributes. This is an ancient pan-cultural way of looking at plant medicine known in the West as the “Doctrine of Signatures.” In the case of Mimosa, the branches of the tree sway gently in the breeze, bringing a sense of peace of quiet. The look of the flowers appear startlingly beautiful and pleasing. The sight of a thousand pink flowers is astonishing. The gentle soft leaves curl up in the evening, as if mimicking the tree’s ability to induce tranquility and easy sleep. The medicine from the plant is truly similar to the way it looks.
Mimosa flowers has a mix of constituents that combine to give it its mood supporting properties. It contains flavanol glycosides (quercitin and isoquercitin) that have shown increased sleep time when given to mice in controlled studies. Extracts of the bark have been found to be important as antioxidants. The main difference between the bark and the flowers is that the bark is more gently sedative and mood stabilizing, while the flowers energize, lift mood and release stress. While the bark may be more helpful for those who have experienced trauma, feel overwhelmed with fluctuating moods, some confusion, insomnia and disassociation with a fast and floating pulse, the flowers are more helpful for those who feel in a black mood regularly, feel stuck, angry, brooding and ruminative with a tight, compressed and hard pulse.
One note I want to add is that recently it has come to my attention that some notable western herbalists (David Winston, Janet Kent, Thomas Easley) have seen clients who are susceptible to mania triggered into mani symptoms after consumption of Albizia. There is no evidence of this that I know of in Chinese medical literature and indeed it is an extremely common herb often given in China and Taiwan to quell insomnia, disturbed and vivid dreaming. But it is key to have this additional information when considering working with this plant.
So once you have gathered the flower, lay them out to dry for several hours.
A nice mesh screen would be the best- to let the air dry it out but I only had cookie sheets today.
Store the dried flower in a nice glass jar for later use in tea.
Flowers can more readily be added to tea blends and mix well with herbs such as lemon balm, mint, linden, rose and oatstraw.
Then I like to make a brandy elixir. In a quart jar, gently fill up your quart jar with flowers. Don’t pack too tight.
Fill up half way with honey.
Then add brandy to fill up the rest of the way.
Take a spoon + mix up the honey and brandy so it is even throughout. Let Isabel meditate on the goodness. 🙂
Cap and seal the jar and then let it sit in a cool dark place for four weeks.
Afterwards, uncap and strain the elixir and place in jars or tincture bottles.
I will take this regularly throughout the darker winter season to bring in some of that juicy summer uplifting Mimosa flower energy.
I take about 3-5 droppers full as needed, up to a few times a day.
Mimosa is such a wonderful friend that so easily offers its medicine throughout the country that I urge anyone interested in herbs to take full advantage of all that she offers. Drying her for tea blends, elixirs and tinctures is simple and uplifting “anti-depressant ” medicine in its own right. For more information about this herb and its properties, remember to take a look at the article on harvesting the bark here.
Many of you might be very interested in this herb but may not want to take the time to gather it yourself and make medicine from it. To buy it separately, I recommend a few sources.
Noted herbalist David Winston sells a few tinctures that contain Mimosa- including
You can buy tinctured Mimosa bark from Herb Pharm here…
Michael Tierra’s company Planetary Herbals also sells a flower and bark tincture that you can find here…
I have yet to find a good place to purchase Albizia flowers so I collect them myself and dry them. If others know a good place please let me know.
You can also find me at the Facebook group Herbs for Mental Health.