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    Mimosa Tree (Albizzia)

    The flowers and bark of the mimosa tree (Albizzia julibrissin) are one of the most valued Chinese botanicals for relieving anxiety, stress and depression. Commonly found growing throughout temperate zones in the Western United States albizzia is native to China, Persia, Korea and Japan. It is traditionally known as "he huan hua" (flowers) and "he huan pi" (bark) and popularly as the "happiness herb" by the Chinese.

    Recently some Chinese herbalists and acupuncturists even call it "herbal prozac." Its use was first documented in the Shen Nong Ben Cao (Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica) during the 2nd century for its mood supportive and calming properties as well as a tonic.

    Chinese people traditionally recommend its use for anyone who is suffering from grief as a result of a severe loss.

    Both the bark and the flowers of albizzia are used as a calming sedative in Oriental traditional medicine. Categorized in the Chinese Materia Medica as a calming spirit herb, the bark is thought to 'anchor' the spirit, while the flowers lighten it. The flowers have also been used for the treatment of insomnia, amnesia, sore throat, and contusion in oriental traditional medicine (Kang, et al) as well as depression, melancholy and anxiety.

    Considering the proliferation of antidepressant drugs with their increasingly recognized adverse effects throughout the Western world it's wonderful that nature may have an abundant alternative. In our personal research, we have found a more profound effect than St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum).

    There are broadly three classes of antidepressant medications, Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA's), Monoamine Oxidase inhibitors (MAOI's) and the most popular, Serotonin Selective uptake inhibitors (SSRI's).

    TRI's enhance concentrations of the neurotransmitter chemicals norepinephrine (stimulating) and serotonin (the happiness hormone) in the brain. These are known as monoamines and they must be inactivated and reuptaked by the secreting cells. TRI's block this reuptake, allowing the monoamines to remain active in the body much longer.

    MAOI's not only enhance the same neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin, but dopamine (the reward, or satisfaction hormone) as well. This is the most dangerous and least prescribed class of antidepressants because it may also inhibit the reuptake of tyramine which can cause dangerously acute hypertension.

    SSRI's (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’s) include the popular drugs Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft and work by blocking serotonin reabsorption, specifically it prolongs the effects of serotonin with an accompanying sense of well prolonged well being.

    All three categories of drugs list a plethora of possible and in many cases, likely side effects. Albizzia, on the other hand, may prove to be a safer alternative, though these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    With hundreds of years of traditional use, Albizzia may prove to be a useful antidepressant and anti-anxiety herb with no known side effects. While the traditional Chinese dose is 9 to 15 grams daily, a positive effect can be achieved with as little as 3 grams daily.

    Biochemical Theory

    The active constituents of albizzia are saponins and tannins. While specifically it contains albitocin, b-sitosterol, amyrin, 3,4,7-trihydroxyflavone, spinasterylglucoside, machaerinic acid, lactone, methyl ester, acaci acid lactone. Several compounds flavonol glycosides, have demonstrated sedative activity ,4 also quercetrin and isoquercetrin is also a part of its constituents. Finally research has revealed significant antioxidant activity from the bark.

    Evidently few studies of albizzia have been conducted. In one animal study examining the sedative effects of a methanol fresh-flower extract (400g in 3 L two isolated compounds from albizzia, quercetrin and isoquercetrin (flavonol glycosides), were both found to increase pentobarbital-induced sleeping time in a dose-dependent manner in mice. This indicates a possible herb drug indication that patients taking sedatives should be made aware of. As well, it substantiates the sedative claims for albizzia. Yet, through my experience and that of my patients, none have ever reported feelings of drowsiness from the recommended or even relatively higher doses of albizzia alcoholic extract or powder.

    Reportedly, a methanolic extract of the stem bark of Albizzia julibrissin was also found to have significant potential in scavenging destructive free radicals, making albizzia a useful anti-aging antioxidant as well.

    In traditional Chinese Medicine, albizzia bark and flower is classified as sweet with a neutral (neither heating nor cooling) energy and enters the heart and liver organ meridians. Common adulterants found in the market for albizzia flowers are certain species of magnolia flowers which reportedly have similar properties.


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