6 uses of the Mimosa hostilis that you didn't know
The bark of Mimosa hostilis (Mimosa tenuiflora, jurema, or tepezcohuite) is widely appreciated for its uses in traditional medicine and natural cosmetics. Its applications in the regeneration of skin wounds and as a beauty product are well known. But this bark keeps more unsuspected properties.
Did you know that it can be used to leather tanning or fabric dyeing or that it is being tested to create antibiotics and antifungals?
Depending on the extraction process or the activity for which it is sought, the Mimosa hostilis tree has several characteristics that make it multifaceted.
Here we have 6 alternative uses for Mimosa tenuiflora:
The bark of Mimosa tenuiflora is rich in tannic acid1, a substance often used for leather tanning. Tannins react with the animal skin tissue preventing its decomposition and preserving its flexibility2.
The artisan process of tanning hides can take days. Only prepare the skin for tanning, takes more than a week. After having the skin ready, it is immersed in an extract of Mimosa tenuiflora in which it is stirred continuously and taking great care that it absorbs the desired amount. This final step with the extract will give the final texture and provide some degree of colour3.
Other trees, such as Anadenanthera colubrina4 and Acacia angustissima5 share these same properties.
With the extract from the bark of Mimosa hostilis, tinctures6can be created in purple, cherry, brown, and pink tones, according to the concentration achieved and the textiles. Although some skins can also be dyed without hair or scales7. It is a popular technique among those who want to recover traditional dyeing methods, although experiments are beginning to be made for industrial use8. In video platforms circulate tutorials sharing recommendations for use as a vegetable dye.
In Central America, Mimosa tenuiflora is known as "carbón negro" (black coal) and in Venezuela and Colombia, "carbonal" or "carbón colorado (red coal)9 ", a very simple name that describes one of its most common uses: fuel10. In several communities, coal such as Mimosa tenuiflora is highly valued for its high caloric value11.
Ally in the countryside
Mimosa hostilis is a great ally in rural areas. Farmers use it in an integral way, planting trees on the edge of their fields, to delimit them with "living" fences that are complemented with the wood of the same tree12.
In addition, it provides nutrients to the soil. This species belongs to the subfamily Mimosoideae, which is characterised by its properties to fix nitrogen in hostile terrains13. This extra supply of nutrients benefits the fenced area, whether it is used to grow crops or graze animals, which are fed with tender Mimosa tenuiflora pods. All of this creates a life cycle in the field.
In recent years, some experiments have been conducted in agronomic activities. The antifungal properties of the Mimosa hostilis extract have been tested as a biopesticide base14 and its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil as a biofertiliser15.
Antibiotic and Antifungal
There are records of indigenous communities using Mimosa tenuiflora bark extract as an antifungal for oral and vaginal infections16. This use is not anecdotal; there is scientific evidence of the usefulness of Mimosa hostilis in creating anti-bacterial and antifungal treatments. In 2017 a study was published that found that an extract created with Mimosa tenuiflora and Eucalyptus urophylla + Eucalyptus grandis worked to combat strains of E-coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, with resistance to antibiotics. In addition to working with Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans fungi. So far, this study indicates that it has a great possibility of veterinary use17. ¿Could it be that one day it could be used with humans?
Anti-caries chewing gum
The bactericidal quality of Mimosa tenuiflora has been spread as an aid in combating periodontal diseases and cavities18. The Autonomous University of Coahuila, in northern Mexico, created a chewing gum with the bioactive compounds of 15 medicinal plants, including Mimosa hostilis. Researchers have tested the chewing gum with patients, finding that it reduces 30 to 50% of the bacteria that cause these oral problems.
Did you know about these uses?
1. Martel-Estrada, S. A., Olivas-Armendáriz, I., Alvarado-Gutiérrez, M. L., & Urquizo-Monrreal, (2014) P. Mimosa Tenuiflora: redefinición de concepto durante el ciclo de vida del producto. Congreso Internacional de Investigación. Academia Journals.
2. Charbonneau, R. (1988). Pinos y pieles: Chile siembra su propio tanino. CIID informa, v. 17, no. 4.
3. Zapata, L. (2008). Manual práctico de curtido natural de cueros y producción de artesanías. Asociación Faunagua. Editorial INIA.
4. Zapata. L. (2008).
5. Royo, M. Melgoza, A., Sierra, S. (2003). Manual de plantas útiles. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias (INIFAP). Chihuahua, México.
6. Centro Educativo Intercultural Femenino Guadalupano A.C. (2010). Manual: Propagación en viveros de plantas de tepezcohuite. INDESOL. Secretaría de Desarrollo Social.
7. Zapata. L. (2008).
8. Erkan, G., Sengül, K., Kaya, S. (2014). Dyeing of White and indigo dyed cotton fabrics with Mimosa tenuiflora extract. Journal of Saudi Chemical Society. Vol. 18. Issue 2. April 2014. Pages 139-148.
9. Quatrocchi, U. (2012). CRC World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants: Common Names, Scientific Names, and Etymology. In Nature (Vol. 196, Issue 4855). CRC Press.
10. Centro Educativo Intercultural Femenino Guadalupano A.C. (2010).
11. Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación. (1998). Mimosa hostilis. Especies Arbóreas y Arbustivas para las Zonas Áridas y Semiáridas de América Latina. Red Latinoamerica de Cooperación Técnica en Sistemas Agroforestales. FAO.
12. Centro Educativo Intercultural Femenino Guadalupano A.C. (2010).
13. Ferrari, A. y Wall, L.(2004). Utilización de árboles fijadores de nitrógenos para la revegetación de suelos degradados. Universidad Nacional de Quilmes. Revista de la Facultad de Agronomía, La Plata. No. 105 (2).
14. La Torre, A., Caradonia, F., Gianferro, M., Molinu, M., Battaglia, V. (2014). Activity of natural products against some phytopathogenic fungi. Ghent University. Comm. Appl. Biol. Sci. 79/3.
15. Galente, C. 1992. 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)
16. Oliveira, F., Antunes de Souza, H., Rosa de Carvalho, M., Gomes Costa, M. (2018). Green fertilisation with residues of leguminous trees for cultivating maize in degraded soil. Rev. Caatinga. Vol 31. (p. 798-807).
17. Souza Araujo, E., Pimenta, A., Feijóm F., Castro, R., Fasciotti, M., Monteiro, T., de Lima, K. (2017). Antibacterial and antifungal activities of pyroligneous acid from wood of Eucalyptus urograndis and Mimosa tenuiflora. The Society of Applied Microbiology. Journal of Applied Microbiology.
18. Notimex. (2017). Goma de mascar que ayuda a controlar la caries creada por estudiante mexicana. Gaceta UNAM Global.