Mimosa- The Happiness Tree

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Early this summer I realized my beautiful Mimosa tree was growing kind of out of control.  This is an extremely fast growing tree that had risen to about 50 feet high and was intermingling its branches amongst the power lines.  Time to prune.  And since I was going to prune, this was also a perfect time to gather medicine from the bark.

 

Mimosa has been valued highly for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine as a botanical that can improve mood, wellbeing, decrease anxiety and bring a sense of peaceful calm, especially to those with a troubled heart and those who have experienced a great deal of stress and trauma.   It is so highly valued that it is surprising to me that it hasn’t been appreciated more in the West and is relatively unknown outside of herbalist circles.

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Ava is in on the action…

 

There are a number of species of Albizia but the one that is most commonly used for medicine is Albizia julibrissin, known as Mimosa or Full Happiness tree.  Take a look at its beautiful flowers and gentle leaves that float and sway gently in the wind and you can already visually feel its relaxing and uplifting qualities.  The main medicinal portions are the flowers (huan hua) and the tree bark (he juan pi).   While the flowers tend to have more uplifting and mood enhancing properties, the bark is more sedative and “anchors” the heart and the spirit when there is grief, sorrow, insomnia and anxiety.  In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also known for gently moving qi and blood, which is deeply helpful for those who feel stagnant, tense and have “liver qi stagnation.”

 

With that in mind, my family spent the day pruning, and then gently stripping the bark and cutting it up to prepare as a tea and as a tincture.   I would have liked to make medicine from the tree before it leafed out and the energy of the tree hadn’t been dispersed as much, but well…I didn’t get to the pruning until now and I wasn’t about to let all the medicine go to waste.  It hadn’t flowered yet so I have time to make medicine from the flowers as well later this season.

 

 

I prefer to use the older bark as the inner portion of the bark is the most potent medicinally and older branches carry more inner bark.  Stripping is an easy job and just involves a sharp knife.  Once the branch is peeled about a half inch it starts to come off in long strips.  My eight year old, Isabel, is a champ.  She peeled off the bark from a long one and we have a huge staff from one of the branches.

 

 

 

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Once it is all peeled, I cut some fresh pieces for tincture and layed out the rest on a hot table and let the hot sun do its work, drying all the bark within a couple days.   I then cut the bark into small pieces to preserve for tea.  Here is a shot of the plant once it has been cut up and put in a glass jar for tea.

 

 

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To make a folk style tincture, simply fill up a  mason jar with the cut up root bark to about an inch below the top and then add 75 % alcohol.  I dilute some everclear and fill up the jar, cap it and then let it sit about a moon cycle (4 weeks).  The stronger alcohol percentage is needed to extract the gums and resins, but can taste a little sharp after it is made.  Then I decant the tincture and compost the herb.  The tincture has a nice light greenish hew to it.

 

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If you make it simply as a tea, the bark can taste a little sweet, acerbic/puckery (tannins), earthy with a slight flavor of citrus.  So to get a clear picture of the herb:

 

Taste:  Sweet, sour, drying

 

Organs:  Heart, Liver

 

Properties:  Mood stabilizing, calming, gentle sedative, anti-inflammatory, analgesic

 

Uses:  Insomnia, grief, post traumatic stress, poor memory. anger, irritability, pre-menstrual tension, pain relief, regenerates tissue for healing fractures, bone injuries.

 

Contraindications:  This plant does not seem to generally be contraindicated with psychiatric drugs. So unlike St. John’s Wort that has a lot of contraindications with western pharmaceuticals, Albizia seems to not cause complications.  There are no strong indications of contraindications in the literature but like every herb, caution is always encouraged.

 

Dosage:  

 

Tea:  As an herb to use as a tea, mimosa bark is not the yummiest beverage by itself.  I definitely recommend adding in modifying herbs to bring out the plant’s medicine and to modulate its taste. It is not an extremely potent herb so one can take a little more than other plants.  Michael Tierra recommends about  9 to 15 grams a day in tea form-  or about a quarter to a half ounce of the plant.

 

So,  the way I like to make it is to take a small handful of mimosa bark, and a pinch of licorice and schizandra berries and put them in a pot with a pint of hot water.  Bring the water to a boil, let it simmer about 20 minutes and then strain out the herb and drink the tea.  Pretty nice.

 

Tincture: Try taking about 3 droppers full three times a day and increase up to 5 droppers 3 dx/day.  Tierra suggests taking up to a tablespoon three times a day for severe cases (thats around 12 droppers full)-  a definitely strong dose.

 

 

Concluding Thoughts: 

A peeled tree branch- beautiful…

 

This is an herb that is highly undervalued, especially for helping people improve emotional wellbeing.  It is easily grown, grows quickly and is not rare like some plants that are highly prized for their effects on emotional wellbeing (the ginsengs, etc).   In general, I notice its subtle qualities of bringing greater peace and well being, a feeling of being grounded and stronger.  On a certain level it feels like it is building, strengthening and tonifying- especially helpful for people who feel floaty, dissociative, confused, scattered and anxious.    We have focused strongly on herbs such as St. John’s Wort, kava and valerian which have complications and a wider amount of contraindications for helping people with mild to moderate depression, anxiety and insomnia but I feel this plant is one that could be deeply beneficial for many people.

 

I will leave you with author, acupuncturist and naturopath Michael Tierra’s remarks on this incredible plant from his article

 

“As well as giving albizia to many patients suffering from acute and chronic depression and anxiety I’ve also given it to those who complain of high stress, with noticed marked improvement ‘”even after a single day of use. While there are undoubtedly many individuals who will require stronger medication (and for these pharmaceuticals may be of value), albizia is a good choice for probably greater than 50% of those who are presently taking a pharmaceutical drug. At a mere fraction of the price, albizia is devoid of the adverse side effects of the drugs and can be easily stopped at anytime. It seems reasonable to conclude that before one resorts to the use of drugs, that nature’s own gift from the ‘tree of collective happiness’ should be given a try instead.”

 

 

 

 

 

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This article written by Jon Keyes, Licensed Professional Counselor and  herbalist.  For more articles like this, please go to    www.Hearthsidehealing.com.

 

You can also find me at the Facebook group Herbs for Mental Health.

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Comments

  1. Can I find this somewhere instead of going through the process of making it?

    I mean I see these trees all over.. I can just go and cut a branch of and make it?

    Anything else you recommend for dissociation?

    Ty!!

    • jay p. king says:

      mimosa tenuiflora (hostillis) is known in mexico as TEPEZCUITE’, the bark is powdered, mixedwith a creme, or petroleum jelly. it is amazing for skin conditions. eczema, psoriasis, even sunburn are treated well. its available by mailmorder

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey Nina, yes for wildcrafting just make sure it is Albizia julibrissin and not another species of Albizia. But if you want to purchase it, I know Herb Pharm sells it as a tincture. Hmmm…disassociation- challenging. There are a number of herbs that help but it really helps to know each individual person before recommending specific herb. That being said- I think of Reishi, ashwaghanda, nettle root, cedar and sage smudging as well as nervines such as passionflower, motherwort and california poppy off the top of my head but again I’d have to consider each person. It really is case by case what herb, how to prepare it, etc. Thanks for your comment…

  3. Great article! I grew up with Mimosas on Long Island NY and loved them just for their beauty. This was before I knew much about herbs.

    I’m commenting mainly because I love the picture of your 8 year-old daughter. She is the epitome of a fully engrossed, fully in the moment, absolutely aware child…confidently doing something she knows how to do! Nice…

    • hearthside says:

      Ya- Isabel loves working with her knife. Thanks for noticing- I think its a great shot of her as well. Sometimes plant medicine comes out in a number of ways…:)

  4. Thanks so much for posting. We have literally hundreds of Mimosa Trees. My daughter, and I just started some Mimosa Tincture. We stripped the bark and filled mason jars with it then filled the jars with 100 proof vodka. We were planning on waiting 6 weeks to strain the tincture; is that too long? we make it with 100 proof vodka what would be a proper dosage? Thanks so much for sharing this. I was happy to find it. We’re also making black walnut tincture in two ways. one way is with undamaged whole green black walnuts off the tree in 100 proof vodka for two weeks (we’re thinking this would be good for internal parasites maintenance dosage), the other is with “cut” fresh green black walnut hull for external and/or internal uses. do you have any info on black walnut? Also we’re making peach leaf tincture from fresh peach tree leaves.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey terri- Yes 6 weeks is plenty long to wait and (50 % ETOH) 100 proof vodka will work fine. I experiment with using between 70-95 % alcohol for the bark. There are different feelings on alcohol percentage with folk herbalists tending to stick to 40-50% ETOH and others using higher percentage alcohol for some plants so as to extract the resins and gums that are more difficult to pull out. I am not familiar with making tincture of black walnut.

  5. So that’s who that was! There was an enormous one growing in my backyard, right on western edge of my stone circle! I was never able to find out what it was, so I just called it “the tree with the Dr. Seuss blossoms.” Butterfly tried to climb it a couple of times (but he was getting older) and all spring and summer, my morning ritual included filling a hummingbird feeder hanging from one of it’s limbs.

  6. Aloha! i have been on the hunt for this tree as I feel a strong pull to the healing properties of this herb… I think i found it! Here in Hawaii though the monkeypod looks very similar in leaves and blooms and I made it my aim to distinguish the differences… I think its in the leaves! Any other suggestions if you have any would be appreciated…. Oh and i love your article — its very clear and concise! I really like your half honey and half brandy idea for tincturing! Also about how thick do the branches need to be to harvest? the pictures of them are pretty big – not sure if i can harvest that from my trre in mind…..Mahalo!

  7. Is the inner bark what we are going for or is it both the inner and outer bark? If the outer bark is used, is there a concern about the moss and lichens, dirt (read air pollution and particulates) and other stuff that accumulate on the bark over the years?

  8. Anonymous says:

    How can I tell for sure that the Mimosa tree growing in my yard is Albizia julibrissin for Sure? I live in Shelby, N C. These trees grow all over my neighborhood. I played in a giant one as a child and have always loved this tree. Even before I read your article I knew this tree was very special, because it always made me happy to be around it and to smell it’s fragrant blossoms. I wonder if you could use the flowers to make a Tea? Thank you for posting this most wonderful article. Sonya G.

  9. I noticed you said root Bark for the tincture… does it have to be root bark? Or will the regular bark work too?

  10. lindsay brewington says:

    Hi John I LOVE this article and great to see everyone pitching in with all the mimosa happiness ! I have a question – I just found your article after collecting two big bags of flowers and needed to find out info. The flowers I am using for mood stabilizing, but I heard that the bark has DMT in it and was concerned about that. I would love to use the bark if it is safe, but is it ? Thanks so much and love your work.

  11. Hi,

    Thanks for the article! We have a young mimosa tree and absolutely love it. My sister is an herbalist and mentioned it’s happiness qualities, so I may tea out of the flowers for the first time today. I didn’t dry the flowers – hope this is okay! I could use the stabilizing quality of the bark but don’t see myself making a tincture. Is there a tincture/brand you’d recommend?

    Thanks!

  12. Hello!
    I wanted to ask you if you feel that mimosa pudica is slightly toxic due to the alkaloid mimosine?
    I really want to try this but am afraid of it’s toxicity.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Keyes has a great writeup on Albizia at Hearthside […]

  2. […] A jar of mimosa bark that’s ready to be made into a tincture. Picture from Hearthside Healing […]

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