Many herbs offer health benefits, but Mimosa pudica is one-of-a-kind. It could support your wellness in a dozen ways — and then some.
Mimosa pudica thrives in warm and humid climates, including India. There, it has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. For example, the plant has traditionally been used for diarrhea, sinus issues, and hair loss. (1, 2)
Today, this plant’s sticky seeds are becoming a functional medicine favorite. When mixed with the watery fluids of your intestines, the seeds form a gel. This gives them a “gut scrubbing” ability. They help escort toxins and parasites out in your stools. (3, 4)
Tidying the gut and purging parasites are only the tip of the iceberg for Mimosa pudica. Scientists are studying other parts of the plant to uncover potential benefits for asthma, memory, skin, and more.
Here’s a look at 12 ways this multipurpose herb may benefit you, based on emerging research.
1. May Ease Asthma Symptoms
Does asthma affect you or someone you know? Chances are, it does. Around 300 million people worldwide have asthma, and this number is steadily climbing. (5)
Asthma is a serious condition that causes inflammation and excessive mucus production in your airways. That can result in coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.
Though asthma treatments have improved, the condition still lowers your quality of life. Better ways to manage it are needed. (5)
Mimosa pudica may provide a way to reduce asthma symptoms, according to animal and lab research.
When rodents with asthma were given an extract made from the Mimosa pudica plant, it blocked the release of molecules involved with inflammation. The extract also decreased mucus secretion in their lungs.
Another part of that study found that Mimosa pudica extract decreased inflammatory responses to dust mites in human cells. Dust mites are a common trigger of asthma symptoms. (6)
More research is needed, but this plant may have a bright future in helping people with asthma.
2. Has Anti-Cancer Properties
Many plants contain powerful phytochemicals that have cancer-prevention actions. Mimosa pudica is no exception. Scientists have identified that it contains at least eight different phytochemicals with anti-cancer properties. (7)
There are many types of phytochemicals. One subgroup is flavonoids. A lab study found that flavonoids extracted from Mimosa pudica inhibited the growth of breast cancer cells. (8)
Myricetin is one anti-cancer flavonoid in Mimosa pudica. Lab research suggests myricetin may suppress both human lung cancer and leukemia cells. Animal tests also suggest the compound may have anti-cancer effects in liver and kidney cells. (9)
L-Mimosine, an amino acid in Mimosa pudica, shows promise as well. Lab tests found it interfered with the growth of lymphatic cancer cells. It also functions as an antioxidant. (10)
Of course, many factors affect cancer development. But the phytochemicals and other beneficial compounds in the Mimosa pudica plant may prove to be one way to fight back.
3. May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s way of trying to protect itself. For example, it may be triggered by toxins or pathogens. And damaged cells may activate inflammation to initiate healing. (11, 12)
In the short term, inflammation can be helpful. You need this defense mechanism. But inflammation can cause tissues to swell and trigger pain. (13)
Also, if the inflammation doesn’t “turn off,” it becomes chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can contribute to long-term health issues. That includes diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. (11)
Could Mimosa pudica come to your rescue against inflammation and pain? Initial studies suggest extracts from the plant may help combat inflammation.
Researchers extracted 14 phytochemicals and other compounds from Mimosa pudica to test their anti-inflammatory effects. Some compounds helped lower inflammatory molecules by as much as 60% when animals were exposed to inflammation triggers. (14)
Mimosa pudica plant extracts may also reduce the pain associated with inflammation. In animal tests, the extracts were as effective as standard painkillers like aspirin for controlling pain. The extracts were also safe at high doses. (15, 16)
Human studies are needed. But this tropical plant looks promising for fighting pain and inflammation.
4. May Help Combat Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis can cause chronic inflammation and sores (ulcers) in the lining of your colon. It can result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and bloody stools. Treatment often involves steroid drugs to reduce inflammation. (17, 18)
Based on preliminary research, Mimosa pudica may be an alternative to steroids for ulcerative colitis. A better option is needed due to side effects and limited effectiveness of the drugs. (19)
In one study, scientists gave rodents extracts made from Mimosa pudica leaves. Then, they induced ulcerative colitis. Rodents that were given the extracts had less ulceration in their colon than untreated animals.
Plus, rodents given the Mimosa pudica extracts had less colon inflammation compared to those given a standard steroid drug. This was attributed to the flavonoids in the extracts. (19)
Now the herb needs to be tested in people to see how it might help ulcerative colitis.
5. Could Reduce the Length of Seizures
Seizures are a “short-circuit” in your brain. They can lead you to have convulsions and lose consciousness. Several factors increase your risk of seizures. These include toxins, electrolyte imbalance, head injury, and infections such as chronic Lyme disease. (20)
To avoid harm to your brain, heart, and other organs, it’s essential to control seizures. Medicines called benzodiazepines — such as diazepam and lorazepam — are often prescribed for seizures. But they’re addictive and have other side effects. Wouldn’t you prefer a better solution? (20, 21, 22)
Scientists are studying Mimosa pudica to see if it could help people with seizures. Initial animal research with the herb seems promising.
In one study, rodents were given a Mimosa pudica root extract for five days before inducing seizures. The seizures were slower to start and were 42–52% shorter in duration, compared to the placebo group. The greater effect was from a higher dose of the extract. (23)
The roots of the plant may not be the only part that may help with seizures. A similar animal study found Mimosa pudica leaf extracts also reduced seizure length and delayed their onset. (24)
6. May Help with Female Concerns
Ayurvedic practitioners use Mimosa pudica to help with the female reproductive system. For example, root extracts from the plant are traditionally used to help ease premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and relieve heavy bleeding during periods. (1)
Also, some midwives use the Mimosa pudica plant to help shorten labor during childbirth. And they use it to aid the delivery of the placenta after the baby is born. (25)
Preliminary evidence also suggests Mimosa pudica might help with uterine prolapse. This relatively common condition occurs when the uterus isn’t able to “stay in place” and starts to collapse into the vagina. This is more likely after menopause. (26)
In one case study, a 44-year old woman refused a hysterectomy to alleviate the pain and bleeding of advanced uterine prolapse. Under the care of an Ayurvedic doctor, she opted to take a Mimosa pudica extract orally. She also applied a paste of Mimosa pudica root in her vagina.
After just 15 days, the degree of prolapse was greatly reduced, and the bleeding had nearly stopped. After 40 days of treatment, a hysterectomy was no longer needed. This was one of many similar cases treated in this way by the Ayurvedic practitioner. (27)
Imagine the potential benefit of such a treatment. You could avoid invasive and unnecessary medical procedures.
7. May Have Diuretic Benefits
A diuretic is a substance that helps reduce fluid buildup in your body by causing you to pee more. Diuretic drugs are commonly prescribed for high blood pressure. They’re also used for congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease. (28)
But as with many medications, there are drawbacks to diuretic drugs. That’s especially true when they’re taken in higher, more effective doses.
For example, you may experience side effects like headaches, nausea, and dehydration. And some diuretics increase your risk of gout and liver damage. Those aren’t things you’d want to sign up for, are they? (29, 30)
Extracts of Mimosa pudica root may be a good alternative to prescription diuretics, according to an initial animal study.
When rodents were given an extract from Mimosa pudica root, their volume of pee nearly doubled compared to the placebo group. Now human research is needed. But the plant extract may prove to be a safe, low-cost, and well-tolerated diuretic option. (31)
8. Could Protect Against Heavy Metals
Heavy metals can contaminate the soil. For example, arsenic can build up in soil due to mining or the use of certain pesticides. This can have harmful consequences for the environment. And that can harm you as the toxins get into water and food supplies.
Cleaning up the environment isn’t easy, but Mimosa pudica could help.
When Mimosa pudica was planted in toxic soil, it absorbed arsenic. All parts of the plant soaked up the heavy metal, but the roots took up the most. How’s that for a hardworking plant? (32)
That’s not all. Mimosa pudica may also help protect you from heavy metal toxicity and restore damaged tissue.
Scientists put this to the test in male rodents with cadmium toxicity. That can cause infertility in men. Those given Mimosa pudica extract had significantly less damage to their testicular tissue than the group that didn’t receive the extract. (33, 34)
This is an area to explore further, as infertility is on the rise and is closely linked to pollution. (33, 35)
9. May Support Blood Sugar Control
In diabetes, your blood sugar can go too high. This happens when your body doesn’t make enough insulin, which helps lower blood sugar. It also occurs when your body becomes resistant to insulin.
Chronically high blood sugar isn’t healthy. It can lead to eye, nerve, kidney, and cardiovascular damage. So, it’s essential to keep your blood sugar under control.
Controlling blood sugar can be challenging for many people. More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, primarily type 2. That’s the kind that tends to creep up with age. And a third of U.S. adults have prediabetes, meaning they’re well on their way to the full-blown disease. (36, 37)
Mimosa pudica may help with blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes. It’s traditionally been used for this purpose in some countries, including Thailand and India. Animal research supports this use.
Extracts of Mimosa pudica have been found to lower fasting blood sugar in rodents with type 2 diabetes. Extracts from the whole plant as well as the roots have shown this benefit. (38, 39)
Scientists have proposed different ways the plant extracts may have this effect. For example, some evidence suggests phytochemicals in the plant help heal the pancreas, which makes insulin. And insulin helps lower blood sugar. (38)
Human studies could confirm the best form and dose of the plant extract to help control blood sugar.
10. May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol has many different functions in your body. For example, you need it to make hormones and bile, as well as healthy cellular membranes.
But you can have too much of a good thing. When your LDL (bad) cholesterol is high and your HDL (good) cholesterol is low, your heart disease risk increases. (40)
Could Mimosa pudica come to your rescue in this area as well? Initial animal research suggests it might work as well as statins. Those are drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol — but they come with unwanted side effects like muscle pain.
In one study, rodents with high cholesterol were given Mimosa pudica leaf extract for two weeks. The extract lowered their LDL cholesterol similarly to the drug atorvastatin (Lipitor). The plant extract also raised HDL cholesterol as well as the drug did. (41)
Scientists suspect flavonoids and other phytochemicals may deserve the credit for the extract’s cholesterol benefits.
On top of that, the phytochemicals in Mimosa pudica extract work as antioxidants. So, they could prevent LDL from being oxidized or damaged. Oxidized LDL cholesterol is what builds up in your arteries. Minimizing that is key to reducing your heart disease risk. (41)
As with other potential benefits of this tropical plant, this is another area scientists should test in people.
11. Could Enhance Learning and Memory
As you get older, sluggish brain function and memory loss are all too common. Your ability to remember and learn things involves neurotransmitters. These nerve messengers can be disrupted by free radical damage and other factors. (42)
Wouldn’t you like to find natural ways to support your cognitive function and me