Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.
Mimosa tenuiflora, syn. Mimosa hostilis
Other Common Name:
Tepescohuite, Jurema, Jurema Preta, Black Jurema, Vinho de Jurema, Calumbi, Yurema (Quattrocchi, 2012; Wieresma and León, 2012; Mors et al., 2000).
Common names in Spanish:
Cabrera, Carbón Colorado, Carbonal (Quattrocchi, 2012; Wieresma and León, 2012; Ratsch, 2005).
Where is it found?
This large shrub or thorny medium to large sized tree is native to South America (principally Brazil), but is also found in various countries of Latin America (Wieresma and León, 2012; Mabberley, 2008; Mors et al., 2002). In Mexico, the plant is found in the states of Oaxaca, and Chiapas, among others (Camargo-Ricalde, 2000; Argueta, 1994; Martínez, 1994).
How is it used?
In Mexico and other countries of Latin America, the bark of the tree and root is dried, pulverized, and applied topically against burns or wounds (Adame and Adame, 2000). The powdered bark is sometimes taken internally as capsules to heal stomach ulcers.
What is it used for?
Against bronchitis and coughs, a handful of stem-bark and leaves are boiled (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). The leaves and stem bark are decocted in water and applied externally as a wash 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 powdered bark is mixed with aloe vera gel in order to improve its effectiveness, especially first-degree burns (Adame and Adame, 2000).
Research in Mexico has shown the bark possess antimicrobial action against a wide variety of bacteria, as well as wound healing properties (Rivera-Arce et al., 2007; Mendoza-Castelán and Lugo-Pérez, 2011; Argueta, 1994; Camargo-Ricalde et al., 1994, 2000). However, an extract obtained from this plant showed poor antifungal effects against various pathogenic species, including Alternaria alternata and Botrytis cinerea (LaTorre et al., 2014).
Capsules containing the pulverized tree bark are sold in markets in Mexico for the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcers. However, there are no known clinical trials to ascertain its effectiveness or safety.
A comprehensive study by Cruz et al. (2016) evlauted the antinoceptive (against pain) and anti-inflammatory effects of an alcohol-based extract from M. tenuiflora on laboratory mice. The results showed that the extracts obtained for the bark of the tree possessed important anti-inflammatory as well as antinoceptive activities.
The dried root bark contains a hallucinogenic compound known as DMT (Dimethyltryptamine) at about 1-1.7% (Ratsch, 2005). In Northeastern Brazil, the bark of the roots and tree are used to make an intoxicating and psychoactive drink as part of a traditional religious ceremony known as yurema (Quattrocchi, 2012; Mabberley, 2008; Ratsch, 2005; Johnson, 1999).
Propolis is a product made by bees from botanical sources that is used seal their hives, but also has important applications in human medicine. The characteristics of propolis vary according to the plants visited by bees to collect nectar and other products. A Brazilian study of propolis from Mimosa tenuiflora found that it possessed important antioxidant properties (Ferreira et al., 2017).
Safety / Precautions
- The safety of using products made from this plant (either internally or externally) during pregnancy and lactation has not been established.
- The plant may cause fetal abnormalities in animals that consume the seeds during gestation (Medeiros et al., 2008; Pimentel et al., 2007).
- The fresh green plant, when fed to pregnant goats, caused embryonic deaths (Dantas et al., 2012).
- Products purportedly containing the tree bark are sold in various markets and health food stores, but some of them may be of dubious quality (Adame and Adame, 2000).
Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!
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Monterrey, Mexico: Ediciones Castillo; 2000; p. 231.
Argueta A. Atlas de las Plantas de la Medicina Tradicional Mexicana Vol. 3.
Mexico City: Instituto Nacional Indigenista; 1994; pp. 1327-1328.
Camargo-Ricalde S, Grether R, Martínez-Bernal A. Uso medicinal del “tepescohuite”, Mimosa tenuiflora (Leguminoseae) en Mexico. Contacto. 1994; 5: 29–34.
Camargo-Ricalde SL. [Description, distribution, anatomy, chemical composition and uses of Mimosa tenuiflora (Fabaceae-Mimosoideae) in Mexico].[Article in Spanish].
Rev Biol Trop. 2000;48(4):939-54.
Cruz MP, Andrade CM, Silva KO, de Souza EP, Yatsuda R, Marques LM, David JP, David JM, Napimoga MH, Clemente-Napimoga JT. Antinoceptive and Anti-inflammatory Activities of the Ethanolic Extract, Fractions and Flavones Isolated from Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd.) Poir (Leguminosae). PLoS One. 2016 ;11(3):e0150839. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150839.
Dantas AF, Riet-Correa F, Medeiros RM, Lopes JR, Gardner DR, Panter K, Mota RA. Embryonic death in goats caused by the ingestion of Mimosa tenuiflora.
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de Albuquerque U.P. Re-examining hypotheses concerning the use and knowledge of medicinal plants: a study in the Caatinga vegetation of NE Brazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. ; 2006; 2 (1): 30; doi:10.1186/1746-4269-2-30.
de Fátima Agra M, de Freitas PF, Barbosa-Filho JM (2007). "Synopsis of the plants known as medicinal and poisonous in Northeast of Brazil". Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy. 17 (1): 114–40. doi:10.1590/S0102-695X200700010002
Ferreira JM, Fernandes-Silva CC, Salatino A, Negri G, Message D. New propolis type from northeast Brazil: chemical composition, antioxidant activity and botanical origin.
J Sci Food Agric. 2017 Jan 11. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8210. [Epub ahead of print]
Johnson T. CRC Ethnobotany Desk Reference.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1999; p. 532
La Torre A, Caradonia F, Gianferro M, Molinu MG, Battaglia V. Activity Of Natural Products Against Some Phytopathogenic Fungi. Commun Agric Appl Biol Sci. 2014; 79(3):439-49.
Mabberley D. Mabberley’s Plant Book 3rd ed.
London: Cambridge University Press; 2008; pp. 547-548 .
Martínez M. Catálogo de Nombres Vulgares y Científicos de Plantas Mexicanas.
México, D.F.: Fondo de Cultura Económica; 1994; p. 871.
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Mendoza-Castelán G, Lugo-Pérez R. Plantas Medicinales en los Mercados de México.
Chapingo, Estado de México: Universidad Autónoma Chapingo; 2011; pp. 804-805.
Mors, W., Toledo-Rizzini, C., Alvares-Pereira, N. (2000). Medicinal Plants of Brazil.
Algonac, MI: Reference Publications; p. 238
Pimentel LA, Correa FR, Gardner D, et al. "Mimosa tenuiflora as a cause of malformations in ruminants in the northeastern Brazilian semiarid rangelands". Vet. Pathol. 44 (6): 2007; 928–31. doi:10.1354/vp.44-6-928.
Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (Vol. 4).
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; p. 160.
Ratsch C. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants.
Rochester, VT: Park Street Press; 2005; pp. 362-364.
Rivera-Arce E, Gattuso R, Alvarado E, Zárate E, Aguero J, Feria I, et al. Pharmacognostical studies of the plant drug Mimosae tenuiflorae cortex. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007; 113: 400–408.
Wieresma J H., León B. World Economic Plants, a Standard Reference 2nd ed.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2013; p. 449.