Learn about mimosa herb benefits, including how this plant works with the heart, affects insomnia and PTSD, and helps with injuries to the bones.
As a child growing up in North Jersey, spotting the occasional mimosa tree always felt like I had been transported momentarily to an exotic land. It seemed to be too delicate and pretty for my urban environs. When I traveled further south as an adult, I noticed it more and more, until I was told in no uncertain terms by people in sections of the Southeast that it was considered a pesky weed tree. The charm had worn off for many of the folk in those regions, but not for me. The heart-gladdening, spirit-soothing effect it had on me as a child remains to this day, and that quality is very much its medicine.
The mimosa tree (Albizzia julibrissin), also known as the silk tree, is a small, fast-growing deciduous tree averaging 20-40 feet in height, and can also grow like a shrub. Its bark is smooth and light-hued. Its leaves are fern-like, similar to other members of the pea family. An uncommon trait of several mimosa species is that the leaflets fold closed when the sun sets, and the leaves of some species also close when touched. This is a telling part of this plant’s signature, as you will soon see. The flowers are delightfully showy and delicate, with many 2-3 inch-long, fragrant, bright white and pink, silky-looking stamens arranged in a globe-shaped configuration. To me they are quintessential Dr. Seuss-looking trees.
Mimosa bark (he huan pi) and flower (he huan hua) are prominent Chinese medicines. They have similar but not identical medicinal virtues. When preparing a tincture, I usually combine them and use them as one medicine.
Mimosa herb benefits for the Heart Chakra
I know I may be mixing Indian and Chinese terminology here, but it is the best way for me to describe mimosa’s medicine. Most substances that the Chinese materia medica categorizes as heart medicines are, from the Western point of view, more psycho-emotional and nervous-system oriented in their effects. If I were to call mimosa heart medicine without qualifying what I mean, most Westerners would misconstrue it as a tissue-protecting cardiotonic.
By modern Western standards, mimosa is not considered heart medicine because it doesn’t have measurable cardiac-influencing properties. In my practice, however, it is among my most reached-for heart medicines and I often add it to formulas alongside other heart herbs like hawthorn, motherwort, ginkgo, night-blooming cereus cactus and reishi mushroom. Helping on the energetic level of our spirit (Shen) makes everything else work smoother. This is where mimosa excels.
Chinese medicine is accurate in defining spirit and psycho-emotional imbalances as Heart-Shen Disharmonies. The Heart is considered the seat of consciousness and emotion in most healing traditions, traditional Western medicine included. The Chinese call this seat of consciousness “Shen,” and herbs and other substances that help to calm and strengthen the Shen are categorized as Heart medicine. It is what compels me to assign this region of energetic physiology to the Heart Chakra, a term more familiarly understood by Westerners.
This is what we mean by the Chinese Heart, and when it is harmonious one feels comfortable and at ease in one’s skin. But this harmonious state can easily be disrupted by disturbances brought about by excess, constriction of flow, or deficiency. Energetic (Qi and Shen) balance precedes, underlies and informs physical balance. The same is true for imbalance. For instance, excessive anxiety can lead to restless, irritable agitation, chest tightness, pain, and heart palpitations. Blood deficiency or constriction can lead to a variety of symptoms including depression, constrained emotions, especially with accompanying discomfort or pain in the chest or solar plexus, insomnia and dream-disturbed sleep. Swinging from excessive states to deficient states can cause even greater disturbance. The Heart Chakra becomes restless, and we reflect it in our demeanor and behavior. Time and time again in my practice I have witnessed that when our psycho-emotional state is harmonized, we feel better in the center of our being, that place we point to when referring to ourselves: our chest and heart. Mimosa has key influence here.
Mimosa herb benefits for insomnia
When the Heart Chakra is not at ease – either in an excessively agitated, frenetic way or a deficient, lackluster or blocked way – it can lead to sleep troubles. Mimosa bark and flower are often added to formulas to help people fall asleep, stay asleep and sleep more restfully. In Chinese medicine it is often combined with fleeceflower stem/ye jiao teng (Polygonum multiflorum), which you may recognize as the same plant that provides the processed root called he shou wu. Chinese also often combine it with white peony root/bai shao (Paeonia lactiflora), sour jujube seed/suan zao ren (Ziziphus jujuba var. spinosa), and red root sage/dan shen (Salvia miltiorrhiza). I also combine it with more recognizable sleep-support herbs like skullcap, passionflower, hops, valerian, and California poppy.
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Mimosa herb benefits for PTSD and betrayed, broken hearts:
This same medicine extends to Hearts that have been betrayed and traumatized by life tribulations and inequities. The personality of this medicine is one that nurtures the Heart back to a place where it feels comfortable enough to open up and be vulnerable again. Mimosa’s ability to protectively close and then reopen, or to close when things grow dark and reopen when light returns, is its signature, and speaks to its power to encourage the same for a Heart that has protectively closed. For these times I use mimosa alongside appropriate flower essences and Heart-empowering herbs like hawthorn, rose, motherwort and blue vervain.
Mimosa herb benefits for repairing injuries to sinew and bone:
Mimosa bark’s ability to Invigorate and Regulate Blood and Qi flow makes it a go-to herb in Chinese protocols addressing joint and sinew injuries. It helps to reconnect sinew and bone and is often used for joint injuries and fractures to accelerate healing and lessen pain and swelling. Depending on the scenario, it is often combined in formulas with myrrh, frankincense, dong quai, fleeceflower stem, and ligusticum/chuan xiong (L. chuanxiong). I also combine it with teasel root and Solomon seal for similar purpose.
The Mimosa tree is present in the US:
Mimosa herb benefits can be found in the states. If you are reluctant to try herbal medicines that do not grow in North America, then have no fear. Mimosa is here, and in abundance, having been introduced from Asia quite some time ago. Its range extends from lower New England and the Mid-Atlantic states westward to Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, throughout the Southeast and extending westward to California. If mimosa grows prolifically in your area, I encourage you to gather some of this emotional Heart-nurturing medicine and try it out!