The traditional medic uses of Mimosa hostilisKoen
The traditional medic uses of Mimosa hostilis
Although many indigenous communities have tepezcohuite powder or infusions in their traditional recipes to treat skin wounds, infections, and inflammations, it was not so popular some years ago.
The knowledge was recovered during the 1980s when two tragedies struck Mexico: in 1982 a volcano erupted in Chiapas, southern Mexico, and in 1984 a gas system exploded near the nation’s capital. Without sufficient hospital care, people had to rely on traditional knowledge to care for the victims’ injuries. That was the moment when Mimosa hostilis became one of their best allies.
By grounding the tepezcohuite bark, traditional doctors in different indigenous communities produce infusions, balms, and soaps, specially designed to regenerate the skin, but also to treat stomach illnesses, vaginitis and fungal infections on the skin 5 6 7
Mayans of the Yucatan Peninsula clean wounds and pimples by applying the powder obtained from the Mimosa hostilis’ bark by roasting, grinding and sifting it on the affected area. This method is not only useful for humans, but for domestic animals too! Herbalists mix the bark with water and boil it until it becomes a concentrate. They use that water in compresses on superficial wounds. They also gargle with it in the presence of abrasions in the mouth. 8
In Brazil, the knowledge of the use of jurema was shared by the indigenous tribes of the amazons to afro-descendant groups, who use it to produce extracts to treat infections and inflammations, as well as in religious ceremonies. 9
Anti-aging and cosmetic uses of Mimosa hostilis
The well-known anti-fungal, anti-microbial and wound healing properties of Mimosa tenuiflora are not the only reasons people trust on it. The regenerative properties of the root bark powder have been a great ally in beauty routines. Since ancient times, grandmas share their little secret with their daughters and granddaughters: the use of tepezcohuite as a natural anti-aging treatment and key for maintaining their hair healthy.
The soaps and oils of tepezcohuite are used by indigenous women in their beauty treatments. These natural products help them to fight acne, avoid the appearance of wrinkles, spots and stretch marks from pregnancy. They rely on the Mimosa hostilis to take care of their long, thick and abundant hair, controlling dandruff and stimulating growth 10
In 2015, during an interview with Elle magazine, Hollywood actress Salma Hayek, said she uses Mimosa tenuiflora as part of her beauty routine, preferring it over botox. She was surprised that the use of tepezcohuite was little known in the USA. In 2011 she launched a line of cosmetics, skincare and haircare products with Mimosa tenuiflora as a key ingredient.
What does science say about Mimosa hostilis?
It was not until a few years ago that the pharmacological and medical effectiveness of Mimosa hostilis started to be tested in experiments. There are reports confirming that extracts and by-products of this tree are useful for treating wounds, infections and skin illnesses like psoriasis.
In a study published in 2006, an extract of Mimosa tenuiflora was used to treat leg ulcers. Under controlled conditions, they found that the entire group that used the extract in a hydrogel reduced the wound by more than 90% by the eighth treatment, whereas only one person in the control group had achieved a similar recovery. Furthermore, no side effects were observed in the test group. 11
The bark of Mimosa hostilis contains tannins, saponins, polyphenols, an alkaloid fraction, lipids, phytosterols, glucosides, xylose, rhamnose, arabinose, lupeol, methoxychalcones, and kukulkanins. The healing properties of extracts obtained from the bark have been scientifically studied, attributing the main biological activity to its tannin and saponin content. 12
Studies include clinical trials of phytodrugs based on Mimosae tenuiflora bark extracts for the treatment of venous leg ulcerations, like the one we previously described.
In different experiments, scientists found that extract of Mimosa tenuiflora, mainly its tannins, has helped to combat bacteria such as Micrococcus luteus and Bacillus subtilis and fungi like Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Trichophyton rubrum, and Chaetomium indicum, and that a combination with ethanol was effective against andida albicans. 9
- Grether, R. (1988). Nota sobre la identidad del Tepexcohuite en México. Boletín de la Sociedad Botánica de México 48. 151-152.
- Robelo, C. (1912). Diccionario de Aztequismos: catálogo de las palabras del idioma náhuatl, azteca o mexicano, introducidas al idioma castellano bajo diversas formas. COLMEX. Daniel Cosío Villegas Digital Library. (p. 244).
- Cortéz, P. (2017). Diccionario nahuat-español de la Sierra Nororiental del Estado de Puebla. Tetsijtsillin. Tzinacpan. Cuetzalan. México.
- Camargo-Ricalde, S. (2000). Description, distribution, anatomy, chemical composition and uses of Mimosa tenuiflora(Fabaceae-Mimosoideae) in Mexico. Rev Biol Trop. 48. .
- Mendoza C., G. (2007). Medicina Tradicional y plantas medicinales en México. Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo.
- Galente, C. “Plantas medicinales de la región istmeña para la reproducción” en Sesia, P. 1998. Medicina tradicional herbolaria y salud comunitaria en Oaxaca. Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca, CIESAS. Oaxaca. México. (p. 192-193)
- University of Texas at El Paso. (2020) Tepezcohuite: Herbal Safety. l 12 de febrero de 2020.
- Cadena-Íñiguez, P. (2014). Tepezcohuite (mimosa tenuiflora (L) Willd): el árbol de la piel. Año 7. Vol. 7. Núm. 6. Noviembre-diciembre 2014.
- Souza, R. Et-al. (2008). Jurema-Preta (Mimosa tenuiflora Poir.): a review of its traditional use, phytochemistry and pharmacology. Braz. arch. biol. technol. Braz. arch. biol. technol. . Vol.51, n.5.
- Centro Educativo Intercultural Femenino Guadalupano A.C. (2010). Manual: Propagación en viveros de plantas de tepezcohuite. INDESOL. Secretaría de Desarrollo Social.
- Rivera-Arce, E. (2006). Therapeutic effectiveness of a Mimosa tenuiflora cortex extract in venous leg ulceration treatment. Journal of Ethno-pharmacology. September.
- Rivera-Arce, E. Et-al.(2007). Pharmacognostical studies of the plant drug Mimosa tenuiflora cortex. Jounal Ethnopharmacoly. September.