Scientific Name(s): Albizia julibrissin Duraz z.
Common Name(s): Mimosa, Powder-puff tree, Silk tree
Mimosa is native to Iran, China, and Japan, and is also found in northern, southern, and western United States.1, 2, 3, 4 There are approximately 150 species in the genus Albizia, and 17 species are found in southern China.2, 3 Mimosa is a small umbrella-shaped tree growing less than 15 m in height with a broad crown of level or arching branches.2, 5, 6 The bark is dark green to grey in color and may have vertical stripes. The bipinnately compound leaves are 20 to 45 cm long and divided into 4 to 12 pairs of pinnae, each with 10 to 30 pairs of leaflets.2, 7 Mimosa begins to flower in May to early June and through July.4 Ivory, pink, or reddish sweetly scented flowers occur in inflorescences and are a rich nectar source for honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.2, 6 Three to 9 fruits often mature within the inflorescences, and oval-shaped seeds can be seen from June to February.2, 6 Mimosa are used in gardens for ornamental purposes, in sandy areas to prevent erosion, and along roadways.2, 4, 5, 6
The stem bark has been used as a sedative for hundreds of years as recorded in the Pharmacopeia of the People's Republic of China2, 8, 9 and as an anti-inflammatory agent for swelling and pain in the lungs and to treat skin ulcers, wounds, bruises, abscesses, boils, hemorrhoids, and fractures, as well as to remove carbuncles. The dried stem bark is used as a tonic in China and Japan.10 Indigenous people living in the southern mountainous region of Korea prepare the root as an infusion for bone diseases.11 In India, a chloroform and methanol seed extract has been used to treat bronchitis, asthma, leprosy, and glands infected by tuberculous.12 A bark extract to treat insomnia, diuresis, asthenia, and confusion has been used in Asia.2 The plant's flowers have been used to treat symptoms associated with palpitations, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.2, 13
The seed oil is a source of food for livestock and wildlife. The proteolytic enzymes in the seeds may also reduce bitterness in some cheeses. Mimosa may be used commercially as a promising seed oil crop for making soap, hair shampoo, and ultraviolet protectors in cosmetics, and in nutritional products due to its high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids.2
Numerous studies on the phytochemistry of the stem bark, flowers, and seed oil of mimosa have been documented. Most of the studies focus on the various julibrosides, which are triterpenoid saponins that inhibit the growth of several cancer cell lines.8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 One study also reviewed structural and cytotoxic activity among julibrosides and their prosapogenins.10
Radical scavenging activity was associated with phenolic glycosides albribrissinosides A and B, hyperoside, quercitrin and quercetin.21, 22 The free fatty acid content of mimosa seed oil (2.54%) is greater than that of soybean oil (0.86%). The oil and moisture content of the seeds are 10.5% and 1.56%. The primary fatty acids in the seed oil are linoleic acid (58.58%), palmitic acid (13.86%), and oleic acid (10.47%). The saponification value of the oil indicates utility in industrial applications, such as liquid soap and shampoo.2 This plant species also contains deterrent chemical constituents against caterpillars.23
Uses and Pharmacology
In vitro and animal data
Antitumor activity is associated with julibrosides J1, J2, and J3 against breast, prostate, and uterine cervical carcinoma cells.8 Julibrosides J8 and J13 from an ethanol stem bark extract showed cytotoxic activity against hepatocarcinoma cells at 100 mcg/mL.14 Cytotoxic activity is also documented for julibroside J21 against hepatocarcinoma cells.17
Julibrosides J1 and J9 from an ethanol stem bark extract showed cytotoxic activity against epidermoid carcinoma cell lines.16 Julibroside J28 showed antitumor activity against prostate, hepatocarcinoma, and uterine cervical carcinoma cells24; with inhibitory rates of 80.47%, 70.26%, and 58.53%.18
Julibroside J8 also inhibited growth of a human gastric cancer cell line and may induce apoptosis in uterine cervical carcinoma cells through the caspase pathway, which is involved in programmed cell death.25 Solid tumor growth was suppressed in mice treated with julibroside J8. The rate of inhibition for 0.5, 1.5, and 3 mg/kg of julibroside J8 treatment was 16.7%, 35.2%, and 67.5%.26 The anticancer activity may involve inhibition of growth, migration, and tube formation in the human dermal microvascular endothelial cell line.26 Another study in mice documents anticancer activity of mimosa's polysaccharides on sarcoma 180 solid form cancer cells.27
HaBC18, an active substance isolated from mimosa dried stem bark powder, induced apoptotic DNA fragmentation of human acute leukemia Jurkat T cells through mitochondria-dependent activation of the caspase cascade.28
Other pharmacologic activity
The roots of mimosa inhibit the growth of streptomycetes.29 Mimosa also inhibits the growth of oral streptococci.30 Activity against Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella typhi, and Staphylococcus aureus has been documented.31
A mimosa ethanol bark extract ranging from 5 to 20 mg/kg exhibited anti-inflammatory activity on ear edema in mice in a dose-dependent manner.32
A dried methanolic stem bark extract displayed radical scavenging activity possibly attributable to its glycoside flavonoids.21, 22 An ethyl ether pod extract exhibited greater antioxidant activity compared with an extract made with petroleum ether.31 Mimosa foliage, flower, and whole-plant water extracts were tested for inhibition of low-density lipoprotein oxidation.33 The foliage water extracts possessed the highest inhibition, which was standardized at 2.5 mcM of flavonoids.
Anxiety and insomnia
Mimosa is often marketed for relieving anxiety, depression, and stress. A pharmacoepidemiologic study in 2002 found that mimosa was the third most commonly prescribed Chinese herbal medicine for treating insomnia.34 A study in rats pretreated with mimosa documented anxiolytic-like effects potentially mediated by changes in the serotonergic nervous system, especially 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptors.13, 35 Another study in chronically stressed rats found that mimosa alleviated growth inhibition caused by stress and regulated levels of monoamine brain neurotransmitters.36
The herb is available from commercial manufacturers, and the most common dosage forms are liquids and capsules. Manufacturers suggest 3 to 6 mL of 1:2 mimosa liquid extract daily or 1 capsule 3 times daily with meals. However, capsule formulations are proprietary herbal blends and available in several strengths. Powders, teas, and tinctures are also available.
Pregnancy / Lactation
Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
Use caution in patients taking mimosa with anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antibacterial medications because information on potential drug-herb interactions is limited.
Research reveals limited information regarding adverse reactions with the use of mimosa.
Clinical studies are limited.
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