Mimosa hostilis, the tree of regeneration
The mimosa hostilis, whose scientific name is Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd) Poiret is a tree of American origin. It grows naturally in the southeast of Mexico, in Central America and in Brazil. In the latter country, it’s also called jurema or jurema-preta (to distinguish it from another species of mimosa, the jurema-branca), while in Mexico its traditional name is tepezcohuite or “tree of the skin”. The mimosa tenuiflora is typical of a tropical deciduous forest ecosystem, where the rains are torrential and there are very long dry seasons. It can be found in hostile terrain or on the side of roads. In all these situations, the mimosa hostilis grows strong, which is why it is considered a very resistant tree. Its flower is small and has villi, where the pods of its fruits grow. However, they are the bark and roots, the parts where the medicinal powers of this variety reside.
The bark of the mimosa tenuiflorai is made up of: “a great abundance of tannins, saponins, alkaloids, glucose, xylose, rhamnose, arabinose, lupeol, phytosterols, lipids, crystals of calcium oxalate and starch. […] Unfortunately, this species of Mimosa, like others, contains alkaloids, which may limit its pharmacological development as an OTC drug ("over the counter drug") due to national and international legal requirements”ii. And, unlike other varieties of mimosa, tenuiflora contains 5-hydroxytryptamine and the triptamine alkaloid N, N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It has been proven that the dried root of mimosa contains around 1% DMT, while the rind of its trunk contains approximately 0.03% DMT.
Traditional uses of mimosa tenuiflora
Mimosa tenuiflora is especially appreciated for its healing, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, that have been known since ancient times. Pre-Hispanic civilizations and the Amazonian peoples have used its benefits to treat damaged tissues (such as burns) and skin conditions in general, to relieve stomach problems, to strengthen the uterus, to make cosmetics, to celebrate rituals, and even as fuel. Likewise, its agroforestry uses have been exploited (construction materials, to provide shade and forage for plants and animals, etc.), even as a rain indicator.
In Mexico, many indigenous communities take advantage of this plant benefits to treat skin conditions (wounds, inflammations and infections). They have traditional recipes that included ingredients such as herbal tea or powder from the plant’s bark. However, it wasn’t until the eighties that a couple of tragedies motivated the popularization of its uses: the eruption of the Chichonal volcano in 1982 in the state of Chiapas and the San Juanico explosions, which took place in one of PEMEX’s storage and distribution plants in San Juan Ixhuatepec. During the first incident 124 deaths were counted, the majority due to fires caused by incandescent tephra. The second caused the death of 500-600 people (inaccurate data) charred, suffocated by propane gas or as a result of burns, and left around 2,000 injured. In both incidents, the lack of health coverage for the burn patients determined the recovery of traditional knowledge about mimosa, which became the greatest ally to treat themi.
Indigenous experts in traditional medicine use the tree’s bark to produce ointments, balms and soaps that help regenerate the skin. Also in Mexico, they were used to disinfect wounds, for fungal and vaginal infections and to treat lacerations in the mouth. These practices have persisted over time and are traceable especially in cosmetics. A very popular example is about the Hollywood actress of Mexican origin, Salma Hayek. She has stated repeatedly that she uses mimosa in her beauty routine (instead of botox) and that she’s surprised that its benefits are unknown when, for her, it’s part of a long-standing family tradition. So much so that, in 2012, she began to market her own range of products with this ingredient.ii.
In Brazil, in addition to exploiting its dermatological and agroforestry uses, some northwestern indigenous tribes make jurema wine (ajucá or anjucá), with jurema-preta’s bark and roots. The wine is considered a “miraculous drink” of great importance in religious rituals due to the psychoactivity of the DMT. A team of researchers led by Gonçalves de Lima, were the first to detect the presence of DMT in mimosa, after a visit they made to the Pancararu village, in Pernambuco (Brazil). Although there is great secrecy around the way in which these rites are celebrated, some indigenous tribes in the country maintain their consumption, for example, in the Toré festival, dedicated to religious entities and mystical ancestorsiii.
The psychoactive power of mimosa
In his study entitled Jurema-Preta (Mimosa tenuiflora Poir.): A review of its traditional use, phytochemistry and pharmacology, Souza reviews the information and literature related to mimosa and summarizes: “The hallucinogenic effect that accompanies the use of« jurema» is similar to LSD-25, yet apparently faster in effect and shorter duration. Mydriasis and arterial hypertension are notably intense”. He also explains that “the physic effects have been described […] 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 delirium”(Souza, 2008).
For their part, Schultes and Hofmann explain in The botany and chemistry of hallucinogens that, when administered orally, for the action of DMT to occur and the hallucinatory effects to take place, it is necessary to ingest substances that contain MAO inhibitors (such as β -carbolines)i.
That is why, in order to achieve the desired hallucinatory effects, mimosa consumers usually accompany the ingestion of mimosa hostilis with peganum harmala or banisteriopsis caapi (MAO).
Some experts also consider that β-carbolines can be formed from basic tryptamines, such as 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin), which, as we mentioned above, is naturally present in mimosa tenuiflora. This could explain that MAO inhibition occurs due to the exclusive intake of mimosa. This is, for example, Jonathan Ott’s opinion to explain certain observed effects, such as euphoria and the visionary potential of “jurema wine” per seii.
However, numerous authors warn of the lack of scientific information about mimosa tenuiflora and DMT, and claim the need for in-depth research on the plant’s pharmacology to understand its great regenerative and psychoactive power.
Anyway, it is important to note, as reported by MAPSiii, that many plants with hallucinogenic power, such as peyote, mimosa (also psilocybin mushrooms) are not included in the famous Schedule1 of the 1961 UN Drug Control Convention’ list, prepared by the Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND), which classifies " drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse". On the contrary, they do are included in the list, the active principles contained in these plants: DMT (in mimosa), mescaline or psilocybin.
The psychoactive use of mimosa
The psychoactive use of mimosa tenuiflora has expanded considerably in recent decades. Consumers often brew their own mix spending from an hour to a full day. They usually use the seeds of peganum harmala (3 to 5 grams) or banisteriopsis caapi (50 to 150 grams), they boil them to prepare the first extract (MAOI extract). Meanwhile, they do the same with the mimosa (approximately 9 grams, which boils between an hour and a half and four hours on average). Mimosa tea is mixed with an acidifier, such as vinegar, or lemon or lime juice. First, they ingest the extract of peganum harmala and, between 15 minutes and an hour later, the juice made with the mimosa.
Another common recipe is to make a cold liquid only with the plant: between 25 and 35 grams (10 to 20 grams recommended to neophytes) of the ground tree peel are placed in cold water (about 125-175 ml.). Everything is mixed well, while the powder is pressed and strained before ingestion. That powder can be reused a second time.
Of course, it is vital to bear in mind that consumers of these extracts usually take them on an empty stomach and do not use other substances simultaneously, since there are serious contraindications i.
The effects begin to be noticeable between 45 and 60 minutes later and are very similar to those of ayahuasca: physical purgation, nausea and vomiting, chills, accelerated heart rate, increased sensitivity to sound and visual stimuli, visual distortions and optical illusions, altered consciousness and perception, visions with eyes closed… Although, as we explained, there is a firm belief that the effects and purgation produced by mimosa are milder than those of ayahuasca.
Beside the physical effects, there is a wide range of sensations reported by consumers: feelings of unity with the environment or with other people, feeling of understanding of life and existence, mystical experiences, tendency to think in existential terms ... In addition, as with all hallucinogens, there can be side effects (typical, eminently, of a bad trip) such as nervousness, anxiety or confusion. For this reason, experienced psychonauts point out the importance of choosing a good emotional and physical moment, creating a comfortable environment, free of distortions and selecting the best company, since having a harmonious and pleasant set & setting is the best key to guarantee the best experience. During the trip, of course, you must not forget to remain calm and, in the face of nervousness, remember that the trip is temporary.
i Anton, R., et al. (1993). “Pharmacognosy of Mimosa tenuiflora (Willd.) Poiret”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 38, pp. 153-157.
ii Camargo-Ricalde, S. (2000). “Descripción, distribución, anatomía, composición química y usos de Mimosa tenuiflora (Fabaceae-Mimosoideae) en México”. Revista de Biología Tropical, 48 (4), 939-954. En http://www.scielo.sa.cr/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0034-77442000000400018&lng=en&tlng=es.
iii Para más información: https://bit.ly/2Xd2Fu4
iv Para más información: https://bit.ly/3hFCqpP
v Souza, R. Et al. (2008). Jurema-Preta (Mimosa tenuiflora Poir.): a review of its traditional use, phytochemistry and pharmacology. Brazilian arch. biol. technol. Braz. arch. biol. technol. . Vol.51, n.5.
vi Schultes, R.; Hofmann, A. (1980). The botany and chemistry of hallucinogens. Charles Thomas publishers: Springfield.
vii Ott, J. (1999). “Pharmahuasca: human pharmacology of oral DMT plus harmine”. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 31 (2), pp. 171-177.
viii Para más información: https://bit.ly/3biZtpk
ix Para más información: https://bit.ly/2JXlTB3