Mimosa pudica is kind of like an entire natural pharmacy in a single plant.
This fern-like herb has a long history of use in Ayurveda, a holistic healing system that originated in India in ancient times. (1)
Ayurvedic practitioners have used Mimosa pudica for ailments from head to toe, like mood disorders and wound healing.
Now, scientists are starting to confirm the benefits of Mimosa pudica for a wide range of health issues like parasites, depression, and diarrhea.
This article reviews 10 potential health benefits of Mimosa pudica. All parts of the plant — including its seeds, leaves, stems, and roots — are traditionally used to support wellness.
1. Powerful Gut Scrubber
Mimosa pudica seeds are mucilaginous, meaning they swell when they come into contact with a liquid and form a gel. If you’ve ever soaked chia seeds in water, you’ve seen this type of swelling in action. (2)
When you ingest Mimosa pudica seeds — such as in powdered form in capsules — a similar swelling happens in your digestive tract. The seeds become a sticky gel that can latch onto chemical toxins, heavy metals, parasites, and harmful bacteria.
This gooey mass of Mimosa pudica seeds, toxins, and critters travels through your gut and is excreted in your stools. Good riddance, right?
The mucilage in Mimosa pudica seeds also adds bulk to your stools, which aids elimination. It’s a type of soluble fiber, meaning it’s soluble in water. That’s why it’s able to soak up water and form a gel. (3)
Your digestive tract lacks enzymes needed to break down mucilage and other types of fiber. Since it’s not digested, Mimosa pudica mucilage can travel all the way through your gut and do its cleansing work. (4)
2. Kills Parasites
You already know that Mimosa pudica seed can grab parasites in your gut and carry them out in your stools. But, that’s not all it does to put these critters out of commission.
In a test-tube study, scientists exposed a roundworm to extracts of Mimosa pudica seeds. The seed extracts caused paralysis and death of the worms. (1)
Studies suggest Mimosa pudica not only kills adult parasites, but it also can inactivate larvae (immature worms).
When scientists incubated larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis (parasitic roundworms) with Mimosa pudica leaf extract, the parasites became lethargic and unable to move.
What’s more, the critters were permanently inactivated within just one hour, meaning they could no longer cause infection or harm. This matched the effectiveness of the most potent drug tested in the study.
Two other drugs commonly used to treat the parasitic infection took 3 to 5 days to inactivate the larvae in this study. (1)
3. May Support Mental Health
Mental health and mood disorders like depression, anxiety, and panic attacks are on the rise. Depression alone afflicts 300 million people globally. (5, 6, 7)
If you’re like many people, you prefer an alternative to mental health drugs. They often come with unwanted side effects. Some carry the risk of physical dependence or even addiction.
In functional medicine, it’s well-recognized that supporting your gut health is important for good mental health. (8)
Your gut produces neurotransmitters or nerve messengers, which help regulate your mood. In turn, something like Mimosa pudica seed that promotes gut health could support your mental health.
For example, more than 90% of serotonin is made in your gut. Deficiency of this vital neurotransmitter is linked to: (9)
- Negative thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Irritability and low mood
The presence and abundance of certain beneficial bacteria may aid your gut’s production of serotonin. If your gut microbiome is out of balance due to antibiotic use, parasites, or other factors, that could reduce your production of serotonin. (10)
Focusing on parasite cleansing and gut repair with Mimosa pudica seed may help you get your gut health and mood back on track. (9)
Mimosa pudica plant extracts may support mental health more directly. When rats were given an extract made from the plant’s leaves, its benefits were comparable to two common antidepressant drugs. (11)
4. Rich in Antioxidants
The Mimosa pudica plant is high in antioxidants, which help stop the formation of damaging molecules called free radicals. Though the leaves contain the most antioxidants, some are also found in the plant’s stems and seeds. (12)
Mimosa pudica contains phytochemicals and vitamins with antioxidant properties. It also contains superoxide dismutase. This is a powerful antioxidant also found in your body’s cells, but its levels decline as you age. (13, 14)
So, do you absorb the antioxidants in Mimosa pudica seeds since you can’t digest their mucilage?
Scientists haven’t tested antioxidant absorption from Mimosa pudica seeds. However, studies of other types of mucilaginous seeds suggest some of their antioxidants are absorbed in your gut. (15)
That is good news for parasite cleansing. Not only does Mimosa pudica seed bind toxins released by parasites as they die, but it might also help combat toxins via its antioxidant activity.
5. May Help Regenerate the Sciatic Nerve
Sciatic nerve pain can be downright devastating.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It originates in your spinal cord and continues down through your rear end, then branches and extends down each leg.
So, sciatic nerve pain can radiate from your back and through your buttocks to your thigh and calf. Sometimes the pain goes all the way to your toes.
Conventional remedies to relieve the discomfort are limited, and alternative solutions are welcome.
In a groundbreaking study, rodents with sciatic nerve injury were given a Mimosa pudica extract every four days for three months. They had 40% better regeneration of their sciatic nerve compared to those given hydrocortisone, a steroid. (16)
Though more research in this area is needed, Mimosa pudica extract may prove to be a viable therapy for sciatic nerve pain.
6. May Prevent Liver Damage
If you have a complex chronic illness — such as Lyme disease and parasite infections — your liver and gallbladder may be inflamed and sluggish. (17, 18)
Lyme bacteria can hide in your liver. Additionally, parasites, such as liver flukes, Ascaris lumbricoides, and other worms, can hide in your liver-bile-duct system. These critters can clog up the system and create inflammation. (19, 20)
If your liver is inflamed and damaged, it doesn’t work as well. This vital organ processes and expels toxins into the bile to be carried away in your stools. When this system is hindered, toxins pile up.
When toxins build up, you don’t feel well. You may experience nausea, fatigue, itchy skin, or several other symptoms.
Preliminary research suggests that Mimosa pudica may help protect the liver against damage, including when it’s overly burdened with toxins.
When rodents were given an extract from the plant’s leaves alongside a liver toxin for a month, nearly 90% of free radical damage to liver lipids (fats) was suppressed. The researchers attributed this benefit to the antioxidants in the extract. (13)
In another study, Mimosa pudica leaf extract helped prevent liver damage in rats when they were exposed to carbon tetrachloride — a dry-cleaning chemical and liver toxin. In fact, the extract worked as well as a standard liver-protective drug. (21)
7. Kills Harmful Microbes
Microbes are tiny organisms that you can’t see without a microscope. They include bacteria, viruses, and fungi (yeasts and molds).
Your body is full of these little creatures — they make up your microbiome. Some of them are vital for your health and well-being. Others can harm you, especially if they outnumber the “good” microbes or disrupt the balance in your microbiome composition. (22, 23)
Studies suggest Mimosa pudica may help protect against certain “bad” microbes that cause infection and illness.
Test-tube studies have looked at the effectiveness of Mimosa pudica against:
- Bacteria: Mimosa pudica leaf extract prevented Escherichia coli and Salmonella bacteria from multiplying. Mimosa pudica leaf and root extracts were also effective against Klebsiella pneumoniae, a common gut pathogen. (24, 25, 26)
- Viruses: An extract prepared from the whole Mimosa pudica plant completely stopped the mumps virus from replicating. (27)
- Fungi: Mimosa pudica leaf extract inhibited the activity of the yeast Candida albicans, though it wasn’t as effective as the antifungal drug fluconazole. Of course, such prescription drugs also can have unwanted side effects like stomach upset. (26)
Mimosa pudica’s antimicrobial activity is thought to be due to its rich stores of phytochemicals. These include flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, and glycosides. (24)
Scientists’ interest in using plant-derived antimicrobials is growing. This is partly due to the increasing problem of drug-resistant pathogens. Additionally, antibiotics kill good as well as bad microbes indiscriminately. This can disrupt the health of your microbiome. (24)
8. Used in Wound Healing
For centuries, Mimosa pudica has been used to stop bleeding and treat skin issues. For example, in traditional medicine people make a warmed paste from the plant’s roots and put it over wounds to stop bleeding and aid healing.
It’s also traditional to make a warmed paste from the plant’s leaves and apply it around pus-filled, infected skin such as boils. It’s said to help break the boil and release the pus. This paste is also used to relieve itchy skin. (16)
Scientists are starting to confirm these skin healing properties in research.
In one study, investigators tested a Mimosa pudica root extract in an ointment that they applied to cuts in rodents’ skin. To check how well it worked, they looked at the hydroxyproline content of the wound as it healed.
You may have heard of hydroxyproline. It’s a component of collagen, which helps keep skin elastic and youthful-looking. It’s also important for healing skin wounds.
Rodents’ wounds treated with Mimosa pudica ointment were 2.5 times higher in hydroxyproline than in the control group. Scientists credited this impressive skin healing benefit to the phenols in the plant extract. (28)
The minerals in Mimosa pudica leaves also promote skin health. The leaves contain iron, zinc, manganese, and copper. These minerals are needed for skin health and immune health, including fighting skin infections. (29)
9. Has Antidiarrheal Properties
Diarrhea not only is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it also can dehydrate you.
Typical anti-diarrheal medications like loperamide (Immodium A-D) slow your digestive system. This reduces the frequency of bowel movements. But, this could swing too far the other direction. A potential side effect of loperamide is constipation. (30)
Even worse, super-high doses of loperamide taken long term can cause serious heart rhythm problems and death. This was discovered when people were taking massive amounts of the drug to get high, as it has opioid-like effects in mega doses. (31, 32)
Though that’s an extreme case, you’d likely prefer a more natural solution for diarrhea. Mimosa pudica has potential in this area.
When rats with diarrhea were given a Mimosa pudica leaf extract, it reduced the frequency of diarrhea by more than three-fold compared to loperamide.
This was likely due in part to tannins and flavonoids in the extract. These phytochemicals may reduce muscular contractions and secretions of the intestinal tract. This slows the progression of food through the gut to help prevent diarrhea. (33)
Anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties of Mimosa pudica also support gut health and normal stools.
10. May Protect Against Ulcers
Peptic ulcers are sores on your digestive tract lining. They result from acidic erosion of the gut’s protective mucous coating.
Ulcers are typically located in your stomach or the upper part of your small intestine. Less commonly they may occur in the lower part of the esophagus, near your stomach.
A major risk factor for peptic ulcers is infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria. It can damage your digestive tract’s mucous coating. This weakens your gut’s defenses against acidic stomach secretions. (34)
Research suggests Mimosa pudica leaf extract helps reduce stomach acidity and increase the secretion of protective factors in the gut. This may help prevent ulcers.
When rats were given Mimosa pudica leaf extract, they had 67% fewer ulcers compared to the control group. Rats that were given the drug ranitidine (Zantac) to decrease stomach acid secretion had 49% fewer ulcers in comparison to the control group.
In other words, Mimosa pudica extract outperformed a drug commonly prescribed to prevent and treat peptic ulcers.
Scientists think part of the herb’s protective benefit comes from its content of quercetin. This phytochemical may help stimulate the gut’s production of protective factors. (35)
The Mimosa Multitasker
Mimosa pudica packs remarkable healing potential in its seeds, roots, leaves, and stems.
Traditional medicine practitioners have long utilized the plant for a range of health concerns, such as healing cuts and treating diarrhea. Scientists are now confirming these and many other potential benefits in studies.