Mimosa hostilis or Mimosa tenuiflora is a perennial tree native to the northeastern region of Brazil and found as far north as southern Mexico.
Mimosa hostilis history
The Mimosa hostilis tree has been used for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Mayan communities. Appropriately named the “Skin tree”, mimosa hostilis been used for a number of reasons related to skin health throughout history.
Although mimosa hostilis bark use dates back to the 10th century, it was thoroughly studied only in the 1980’s after two horrific accidents and an earthquake in Mexico which killed at least 12500 people and left many more injured.
In 1982 an apparently dormant volcano called El Chichón in Chiapas, Mexico produced three Plinian eruptions that killed at least 1,900 people living near the volcano and left a countless number of people injured with severe burns. Due to the proportions of the catastrophe, lack of health professionals and adequate medication, the people in Chiapas turned to Tepezcohuite to treat the burn victims. In 1984, only 2 years after the El Chinchon volcano eruption, another disaster struck Mexico. The explosion of a gas plant in San Juan Ixhuatepec plant killed more than 500 people and left another 5000 to 7000 people with severe burns. Due to the success of Tepezcohuite in treating the burn victims from the volcano disaster 2 years back, the Red Cross suggested that the bark of the Mimosa hostilis tree should be used on the burn victim’s wounds. The results amazed the doctors and the international press reported Tepezcohuite’s successful use in the treatment of the victims.
In 1985 after the Mexico City earthquake, Mimosa hostilis was once again used successfully to treat burn victims from the fires that resulted from the earthquake, resulting in a significant decline in the death rate of those affected by the fires. Due to its overwhelming success as a natural remedy with powerful healing properties, mimosa hostilis was extensively studied after the Mexican disasters.
Phytochemistry of Mimosa hostilis
Mimosa hostilis bark has been found to contain several saponins like triterpene saponins (mimonosides A, B, and C) and steroid saponins (3-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-stigmasterol, 3-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-β-sitosterol and 3-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-campesterol) Studies suggest these compounds are clearly bioactive (Jiang, 1991)
Mimosa hostilis bark also conatins stigmasterol, campesterol, lupeol, and β-sitosterol. It also contains copious amounts of calcium oxalate crystals and a great deal of starch and tannins which makes it so useful as a natural dyeing agent. (Anton et al. 1993)
Also, some novel chalcones have been found in the mimosa bark and were named kukulkanins, after the Mayan deity Kukulcan (“feathered serpent”) (Dominguez et al. 1989).
Mimosa hostilis uses
For its traditional use in South America, the trunk and the root bark are pulverized and the Mimosa hostilis powder is applied topically on the skin.
It produces analgesic effects that last for two to three hours and clearly shortens the regeneration period of the epidermis. The bark also appears to have a stimulating effect on the immune system (Anton et al. 1993) The leaves and stem bark are boiled (decocted) in water and applied externally as a washing agent against skin ulcers as well as to treat vaginal infections (Mendoza-Castelán and Lugo-Pérez, 2011; de Fatima et al., 2007), In some cases, the Mimosa hostilis powder is mixed with Aloe Vera gel in order to improve its effectiveness, especially in first-degree burns (Adame J, 2000)
Mimosa hostilis is also traditionally used against coughs and bronchitis, a handful of stem-bark and leaves are decocted in a liter of water to make a tea or syrup that is taken until the symptoms abate (Cruz et al., 2016; Mors et al., 2002),
In Mexico it’s common to see capsules containing the powdered tree bark being sold in markets for the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers. However, there are no known clinical trials to access its safety or effectiveness.
Aside from the well-known anti-microbial, anti-fungal and wound healing properties of Mimosa