The mimosa tree (Albizzia julibrissin), also known as the silk tree, is highly valued by the Chinese. According to Michael Tierra, founder of the American Herbalists Guild, the flowers and bark of the mimosa can relieve depression and anxiety. In Asia, the tree is commonly called "the happiness herb." It is claimed to have a variety of medical applications.
The mimosa tree was introduced into the United States from China in 1745, mainly because of it's clusters of pretty pink flowers, according to Florida's Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. The tree is deciduous and grows to a height of 20 to 40 feet. A hardy tree, the mimosa has become invasive in recent years, mainly in the southern U.S. Some horticulturists are urging homeowners to avoid its use.
The bark of the mimosa tree is sold in health food and herbal remedy stores as an anti-depressant. Herbalist Michael Tierra states that the Chinese frequently give patients mimosa bark, sold in capsules or shredded form, in amounts of 9 to 15 grams daily. The bark is also used to calm nerves and ease anxiety. Patients considering a switch from a prescribed anti-depressant to mimosa should consult their doctors beforehand.
Mimosa bark is said to heal other health conditions besides depression. Earth Clinic Folk Remedies, www.earthclinic.com, posts comments from mimosa users who claim the bark healed their irritability, insomnia, bone spurs, haircare, memory problems, liver problems, and arthritis, just to name a few.
Mimosa tea can be found in any health food or herbal store. Because of its supposed sedative qualities, many teas with mimosa are labeled as sleep remedies. Mimosa hair treatments are available in cream form. Mimosa bark is also available in capsule form. Some soaps include mimosa as an ingredient for skincare. Purists can buy the actual bark to create their own products.
David Kroll, Ph.D., a pharmacologist and consultant to the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine (DCIM), www.emax.health.com, warns consumers to exercise caution when using herbal remedies. Take extra caution if you plan to combine prescription medication with an herbal remedy such as mimosa. Just because a medicine is herbal, states Kroll, doesn't mean the treatment is necessarily safe.