Mimosa pudica has been a favorite of children in botany classes for generations. It has evolved the ability to close its leaves at the slightest stimulation. Mimosa pudica, or sensitive plant, is in the legume family and is a weed-like plant native to Brazil. The plant, considered an invasive weed in the Gulf Coast states, can form thick, hard-to-get-rid-of mats. It has several herbal properties and can be used in the treatment of various disorders, including menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding).
There are over 300 species of Mimosa in the bean family and Mimosa pudica has the characteristic pods of the family. The plant is a viney creeper with slightly woody branches. It is an annual herb in most climate zones and is easy and quick to grow. Mimosa pudica tolerates truly terrible soil conditions, but does require disturbed soil to seed itself. The leaves are fine and pinnate on either side of the stem. Mimosa pudica gets a puffy little pink flower that will give way to a 1/2-inch pod carrying three to four seeds.
Mimosa pudica can grow in eroded soils and has been tested and used in erosion control. In its native habitat the plant will be found growing in soils that have been disturbed or cultivated like croplands. It is sometimes found in moist waste ground or in shady thickets at the edges of forest land. Although Mimosa pudica can be found alone, it is most often growing into several other plants in a tangled jumble. The plant is frost sensitive and forms an excellent ground cover to protect other plants.
The seeds and leaves are the parts of Mimosa pudica most often used medicinally. According to the Global Invasive Species Database, the roots can make a strong emetic. The database also says it is a mild diuretic, depresses duodenal contractions, regenerates nerves and reduces menorrhagia. Mimosa pudica also reportedly has antidepressant qualities. The seeds and other parts contain mimonsine, an amino acid known to cause hair loss and depressed growth in animals.
Menorrhagia is characterized by heavier than normal menstruation. It is caused by uterine fibroids or hormonal imbalances. Young women and the overweight tend to experience it more. The heavier bleeding can increase the chance of iron depletion and anaemia, toxic shock syndrome and decrease fertility. There are several over-the-counter treatments for the condition, and severe cases can require surgical intervention through hysterectomy or enodmetrial ablation. Natural herbal methods to treat the condition are an excellent way to approach treatment initially and hopefully avoid surgery.
Mimosa pudica can be used as an extract (from the seeds) and as a tea (from the leaves). Both parts are useful medicinally, especially in Ayurvedic and Naturopathic medicine. The plant is used in herbal medicine, but is not FDA approved since human trials are still ongoing. You can order the plant extract as a supplement, but not as a drug.