Mimosa Tenuiflora

Author: Massimiliano Carlin
Date: 26/06/2015


Bottino Flavia Carlin Massimiliano


General characteristics

Mimosa tenuiflora or Mimosa Hostilis is a tree known in Mexico under the popular name in Spanish of tepescohuite. The tree is diffused in central and south America countries but Brazil and Mexico are where it is more common and can be found in dry forests, thorny thickets, Pinus and Pinus-Quercus forests, and in M. tenuiflora pure thickets, along roads and in resting or abandoned culture lands.

This species has an aggregate distribution in the forests and a uniform one in the thickets. Its blooms and fructifies in different time period according to geographic distribution, in this case: In the Northern Hemisphere it blossoms and produces fruit from November to June or July. In the Southern Hemisphere it blooms primarily from September to January. The fruit is brittle and averages 2.5–5 cm long. Each pod contains 4–6 seeds that are oval, flat, light brown and 3–4 mm in diameter. The tree itself grows up to 8 m tall, and it can reach 4–5 m tall in less than 5 years.
The tree's bark is dark brown to gray. It splits lengthwise and the inside is reddish brown. The tree's wood is dark reddish brown with a yellow center (Camargo Ricalde 2000)

Common use

This plant is well known in Mexico and it is mentioned in a wide number of historical essay like “Manuscrito de Martín de la Cruz 1552, "Historia de las plantas de la Nueva España" Francisco Hernández (XVI century), el "Códice Florentino" de Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (XVI century ).
According to tradition the bark of this plant, once powdered, and directly applied to skin lesions, is an effective remedy for treating skin burns and wounds. In Brazil, otherwise, where the plant was well known even before the colonization, it is used in making an hallucinogen drink that is called “jurema wine” by the indigenous groups.

In Mexico in 1984, this natural resource was utilized empirically to relieve the sufferings of hundreds of victims of large natural-gas depot explosion; on that occasion, direct application of powdered Mimosae tenuiflora bark on patients’ burns resulted in facilitation of skin regeneration and prevention of scarring in many of the patients.

Plant main constituents

The composition of the bark have been identified by chemical investigations performed in laboratory.
This researches lead to the isolation and identification of

  • three new triterpenoid saponins (mimonosides A, B and C),(Anton et al., 1993; Jiang et al., 1991a; Jiang et al., 1992)
  • three steroid saponins (3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl campesterol, 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl stigmasterol and 3-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl beta-sitosterol) together with lupeol, campesterol, stigmasterol and beta-sitosterol .(Anton et al., 1993)
  • Two indole alkaloids have been isolated: 5-hydroxy-tryptamine and N,N-dimetyltryptamine (Meckes-Lozoya et al., 1990).
  • Two chalcones: kukulkan A (2’,4’-dihydroxy-3’,4-dimetoxychalcone), and kukulkan B (2’,4’,4 trihydroxy-3’-metoxychalcone)(Camargo-Ricalde, 2000).

h3. Pharmacological activity

Antimicrobicals effect

Water and ethanolic extracts prepared with the bark of this plant, in vitro showed antimicrobial properties. An inhibition growth effect was observed in all the gram positive and gram negative organisms, yeasts and dermatophytes used.

Antiinflammatory action and wound-healing properties

Tellez and Dupoy de Guitard (1990) demonstrated the effectiveness of M. tenuiflora in the topical treatment of the eczema (10% concentration), as well as against the inflammations (as a powder made from the dry bark) in the humans. In a similar experiment, the use of the dry bark of M.tenuiflora proved to be effective in wound healing (Dupoy de Guitard, 1990) The high contents of saponins (Jiang et al., 1991) and tannins in the bark material are claimed to be responsible for potential wound-healing effects (Meckes-Lozoya et al., 1990), due to antimicrobial (Lozoya et al., 1989; Heinrich et al., 1992), anti-inflammatory (Villarreal et al., 1991) and cicatrizing effects (Rivera-Arce et al., 2007a,b).

In a study which investigated the wound-healing properties of this plant conduced by Zippel, Deters and Hensel in 2009 from M. tenuiflora bark a cold water extract (WE) was prepared (yield 12,5%) from which an ethanol-precipitable polysaccaride preparation (EPC) was isolated (yeld 0,4%). They were investigated with respect to their physiological activity using primary normal human fibroblasts (pNHDF) and immortalized HaCaT keratinocytes, a non malignant cell-line. After 72h incubation cell viability was investigated by measuring the cellular dehydrogenase activity. The proliferation rate was determined by immunochemical detection of the incorporated thymidine-analogue BrdU into replicating DNA (Porstman et al., 1985).
The WE caused a drastically decrease of cell viability and proliferation rate of primary fibroblasts in a dose-dependent manner. WE is therefore assessed to be strongly toxic to fibroblasts, probably due to the high amounts of polyphenols and saponins.(Rivera-Arce et al., 2007a,b)
In contrast EPC induced a significant cell viability and proliferation rate in fibroblasts. The study highlighted that Mimosa Tenuiflora polysaccharides don't act via the usual skin cell activation cascades.

EPC where also fractionated into an atypical arabinogalactan protein and an arabinogalactan polysaccharides. Both of them were potent stimulators of the dehydrogenase activity and proliferation of skin fibroblasts, but surprisingly they don't stimulates gene expression, so this effect remains unclear.

Clinical trial of Mimosa Tenuiflora Cortex extract against Venous leg ulceration disease:

The study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. It was conducted dividing 40 adult patients of both sexes with diagnosis of Venous leg ulceration (VLU) in two groups. The first one received a hydrogel containing 5% of a crude extract prior standardized in its tannin concentration, the second one was treated with the same hydroogel without the addiction of the extract. Both of groups started with an aseptic washing followed by topical application of hydrogel and dressing. The inclusion criteria were age between 30 and 70 years, verfied VLU diagnosis by the project medical team, no treatment for at least one month prior to study initiation, VLU without clinical infection. The results showed that the therapeutic effectiveness occurred in all patient of the extract group. The therapeutic effect was evaluated by ulcer size reduction, that in the treated group was 92% (mean value).

Hemolytic activity

Mekces-Lozoya et al. (1990) reported the hemolytic activity of the raw extracts of the stem bark. Triterpenic saponines, the substances considered responsible for this activity, cause membrane rupture in the erythrocytes (Banerji et al., 1981). Studies undertaken in 1992 detected a hemolytic effect in low concentrations of a methanol extract containing alkaloids, and a haemagglutinant effect in high doses (Heinrich et al., 1992).

Hallucinogenic action

One of the species’ most important biological activities is related to its use in religious rituals. The allucinogenic effect that accompanies the use of “jurema” is similar to that of LSD-25, yet apparently of faster effect and shorter duration.

Mydriasis and arterial hypertension are notably intense (Corbett, 1977). The psychic effects have
been described by Matos (1983) as: “[...] anxiety, dizziness, ‘hollow head’ or airiness, ‘waves’ of
tickles passing through the muscles. Next, there is a state of ‘daydreaming’, with opaque vision and
very strong colors and an apparent visual sharpening. Hallucinations follow, along with an
accentuated visual background; perception becomes very distorted and there might be
The pharmacological studies demonstrated that the hallucinogenic effect of N,N-dimetyltryptamine,
when administered orally, was inhibited by the action of monoamino oxidases (MAO), insoluble
enzymes found in the mitochondria (Corbett, 1977) that catalyzed the removal of an amino group alkaloid (Craig and Stitzel, 1986). For the hallucinatory effects to occur, it is also necessary to ingest the substances containing MAO inhibitors (such as b-carbolines), which will then permit the action of N,N-dimetyltryptamine (Schultes and Hofmann, 1980). Sangirardi Jr. (1989) reported having taken cauim (a preparation made with “cachaça” and “jurema”) several times, asserting that the “jurema” intensify the effect of the alcohol, giving a sensation of the happiness and peace, the sharpening of vision and audition (especially in silent places), the latter effect being at times unpleasant. It caused drowsiness and heavy sleeping, resulting dreams and nightmares. This was followed by a strong hangover as well as slight tachycardia and considerable laziness.
Albuquerque (1997), however, reported a euphoric state after the ingestion, as well as sweating (abundant at times), flushing, and passing dizziness. These events could be explained by the fact that b-carbolinas, which could be formed endogenously from the basic tryptamines such as 5-hydroxy-tryptamine (serotonine) (Calaway, 1988; Calaway, 1994), were found in M. tenuiflora (Meckes-Lozoya et al., 1990b). The presence of these substances can result in MAO inhibition, which may lead to an increase in the amount of catecholamine in the central nervous system, provoking euphoric effects (Corbett, 1977). According to Ott (2002), there may be MAO inhibitors in the “jurema preta” extract, which would explain the observed effects. Nevertheless, the “jurema wine” is potentially visionary itself. The inactivity of some preparations, might be due to insufficient dosage (Experimental studies are necessary to test this hypothesis).

See also "N,N-dimetyltryptamine"http://flipper.diff.org/app/items/info/5876

Other pharmacological activity

Antivenom action

An experiment conduced in mice evaluated the antivenom properties of Mimosa Tenuiflora. The study showed that the mices treated with intravenous M.Tenuiflora water extract, after the intraperitioneal injection of the Tityus serrulatus venom, had a significant inhibition of cell migration to the peritoneal cavity and lower levels of IL-6, IL12, IL-1β if compared with “saline i.v.” mice group. This activity may be due to the presence of the species specific saponins and their inhibition of phospolipase A2 and COX2. Those inhibitions lead to lower production of, respectively, leukotrienes and prostaglandin E2. This hypothesis must be confirmed by further studies. (Bitencourt et al. 2014).

Antispasmolytic action

Meckes-Lozoya et al. (1990a), using a spray of the bark extract, observed: the inhibition of the intestinal peristalsis due to a relaxation of the ileum smooth muscle tissue; an increase in the muscular tonus and in the frequency of the contractions of the uterus segments; and an increase in the muscular tonus of the stomach walls. All these experiments were performed with the rats and guinea pigs.


Mimosa Tenuiflora is a plant with a very long tradition and different uses. It was already known before America's colonization by the locals, and for them it also has a use in religion rituals. The traditional uses lead the scientist to try to verify them. At the moment we might to be confident of its activity in treating minor burns, lesions and eczemas. However, the hallucinogenic effect, for example, must be studied further because too much effects are far to be understood.

Equipe's considerations

During the compilation of this essay, we founded some articles talking about what we defined “the dark side of the knowledge progress”. In particular one of those explained that, after the empirically use of bark extracts to cure the wound of a natural gas explosion in Mexico, the plant become a myth and thousand of people began to use it. The effect of this spread was that the bark began to be extracted without caring about the plant health which lead to a pauperization of this natural resource. This potential damage to nature should always be considered when using phytochemicals products and people who use them should always ask them-selves how the product has been obtained.


in order of appereance

Camargo-Ricalde, S.L., 2000. Description, distribution, anatomy, chemical composition
and uses of Mimosa tenuiflora (Fabaceae-Mimosoideae) in Mexico.
Revista de Biologia Tropical 48, 934–954.

Anton, R.; Jiang, Y.; Weniger, B.; Becker, J. P. and
Rivier, L. (1993), Pharmacognosy of Mimosa
tenuiflora (Willd.) Poiret. J. Ethnopharmacol., 38,

Meckes-Lozoya, M.; Lozoya, X.; Marles, R.; Soucy-
Breau, C. and Avalokitesvarasen, A. J.; (1990a),
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine alkaloid in Mimosa
tenuiflora bark (Tepescohuite). Archivos de
Investigación Medica, 21, 175-177.

Tellez, P. J. and Dupoy de Guitard, J. (1990),
Pharmaceutical preparation containing Mimosa
tenuiflora extract with skin-regenerating properties.
Patent Eur Pat Appl. 349, 469.

Jiang, Y. L.; Haag-Berrurier, M.; Anton, R.; Massiot,
G.; Lavaud, C.; Teulon, J. M. and Guechot, C.
(1991), Structure of a new saponin from the bark of
Mimosa tenuiflora. J. Nat. Prod., 54, 1247-1253.

Lozoya, X.; Navarro, V.; Arnason, J. T. and Kourany,
E. (1989), Experimental evaluation of Mimosa
tenuiflora (Willd.) Poir. (Tepeschohuite) I. screening
of the antimicrobial properties of bark extracts.
Archivos de Investigación Medica, 20, 87-93.

Meckes-Lozoya, M.; Lozoya, X.; Gonzalez, J. (1990b),
Propiedades farmacológicas in vitro de algunos
extractos de Mimosa tenuiflora (tepescohuite).
Archivos de Investigacion Medica, 21, 163-169.

Heinrich, M.; Kuhnt, M.; Wright, C. W.; Rimpler, H.;
Phillipson, J. D.; Schandelmaier, A.; and Wargurst,
D. C. (1992), Parasitological and Microbiological
Evaluation of Mixe Indian Medicinal Plants
(Mexico). J Ethnopharmacol., 36, 81-85.

Villarreal, M.L., Nicasio, P., Alonso-Cortes, D., 1991. Effects of Mimosa tenuiflora bark
extracts on WI38 and KB human cells in culture. Archivos de Investigacion
Medica (Mexico) 22, 163–169.

Rivera-Arce, E.; Gattuso, M.; Alvarado, R.; Zarate, E.;
Aguero, J.; Feria, I. and Lozoya, X. (2007a).
Pharmacognostical studies of the plant drug Mimosae
tenuiflorae cortex. J. Ethnopharmacol., 113, 400-408.

Rivera-Arce, E.; Chavez-Soto, M.A.; Herrera-Arellano,
A.; Arzate, S.; Aguero, J.; Feria-Romero, I.A.; Cruz-
Guzman, A. and Lozoya, X. (2007b). Therapeutic
effectiveness of a Mimosa tenuiflora cortex extract in
venous leg ulceration treatment. J. Ethnopharmacol.,
109, 523-528.

Banerji, R.; Prakash, D.; Misra, G. and Nigam, S. K.
(1981), Cardiovascular and hemolytic activity of
Saponins. Indians Drugs, 52, 121-124.

Corbett, C. E. (1977), Farmacodinâmica. Editora
Guanabara Koogan, Rio de Janeiro.
Matos, F. J. A. (1983), Efeitos psicotrópicos de plantas
brasileiras Ciência e Cultura, 35, 432-434

Craig, C. R. and Stitzel, R. E. (1986), Farmacologia
Moderna. Livraria Carioca, São Paulo

Schultes, R. E. and Hofmann, A. (1980), The botany
and chemistry of hallucinogens. Charles Thomas
Publishers, Springfield.

Sangirardi Jr. (1989), O Índio e as Plantas
Alucinógenas. Editora Tecnoprint S.A., Rio de

Meckes-Lozoya, M.; Lozoya, X.; Marles, R.; Soucy-
Breau, C. and Avalokitesvarasen, A. J.; (1990b),
N,N-Dimethyltryptamine alkaloid in Mimosa
tenuiflora bark (Tepescohuite). Archivos de
Investigación Medica, 21, 175-177

Bitencourt et al. (2014)
nautralizing effect of mimosa tenuiflora extracts
against inflamation caused by Tityus serrulatus
scorpion venom

AddThis Social Bookmark Button