Detox Learning Center

An Intro to Mimosa Pudica (And Its Sticky Seeds)

Mimosa pudica seeds could be your gut’s new best friend.

They come from the Mimosa pudica plant, which has fern-like leaves and purplish-pink flowers.

The plant’s roots, leaves, and stems have been utilized in herbal medicine for thousands of years. They’ve traditionally been used for anxiety, wound healing, and many other issues.

More recently, Mimosa pudica seeds have come to the forefront of functional medicine — particularly for supporting gut and immune health.

When ground into a powder and exposed to liquid, the seeds quickly form a sticky gel. This acts as a gut scrubber to help you unfriend bad guys like parasites, harmful bacteria, and toxins.

Read on to get better acquainted with Mimosa pudica, its seeds, and their potential health benefits.

Are Mimosa Pudica Plants Shy?

Mimosa pudica is the plant’s botanical name. "Pudica" is the Latin word for shy or modest. The plant also has several nicknames, like “sensitive plant” and “touch me not.”  

These monikers are due to the plant’s bizarre ability to rapidly fold its tiny leaves and droop when touched. The leaves typically unfold and perk up a few minutes later. This unusual "hiding" feature makes it popular in greenhouses. (1, 2)

This “smart” plant also seems able to distinguish between sensations. It closes its leaves when it senses a threat, like being eaten by an animal, and when it’s dark out. Yet, the leaves remain open in the rain and daylight. (3, 4)

Each plant also appears to have its own “personality.” How long the leaves stay folded after a disturbance is a decision that each plant makes individually. This is partly due to the plant’s energy state. Is it well-fueled or in need of light exposure for photosynthesis? In the latter case, it generally unfolds its leaves more quickly. (5)

This decision-making may also be influenced by past environmental conditions. For example, have light or nutrients been scarce in the past? How long has it taken for a predator threat to subside? (6)  

The plant’s hiding behavior is so specialized that the decision to open or close is localized to each leaf. For example, a damaged leaf may stay folded longer while it heals. Still, the sooner it opens, the better it’s able to produce energy via photosynthesis.

Mimosa pudica is a clever plant, for sure. That said, it really thrives in certain conditions.

It Grows Best in Tropical Climates

Mimosa pudica grows best in warm and humid climates. It is commonly found in India (and other countries in South Asia), Central America, South America, and tropical areas of Australia. In some regions it grows so well it’s viewed as a weed that must be controlled.

It can thrive in low-nutrient soil and has adapted to harsh growing conditions where water is minimal. It doesn’t compete with other plants for nutrients and can be found in eroded areas where other plants aren’t growing.

What helps this savvy plant survive in poor soil?

One factor is that it’s a member of the legume family. Like other plants in this family, Mimosa pudica can turn nitrogen gas from the air into a form it can use for nourishment. Certain bacteria that inhabit the plant’s roots are essential in this process.

Another reason for the plant’s hardiness against poor nutrition is its unique plant compound called mimosine, which has antioxidant properties.

One study found that mimosine helped the plant grow despite the soil being deficient in selenium. That is a mineral that also functions an antioxidant. Additionally, mimosine supported growth and mitochondrial function in the plant. (7)

If you live in a colder climate, you may not have much luck growing Mimosa pudica — at least not as a perennial, which comes back the next year. It is sensitive to frost and doesn’t like shade. Warm temperatures stimulate the seeds to end their dormancy and germinate. (8)

In warm climates, Mimosa pudica can flower year round and produce an estimated 675 seeds per plant annually. Both the plant and its seeds are valued for their health properties.

Mimosa Pudica’s History of Healing

Mimosa Pudica's History of Healing

In some countries, Mimosa pudica is a well-known traditional medicine. For example, it’s used in Ayurvedic therapies from India as well as in Chinese herbal medicine.

In these traditional systems of medicine, any part of Mimosa pudica may be used to support health. This includes the leaves, stems, roots, and seeds of the plant.

Fortunately, Mimosa pudica is now more accessible, due to its use in supplements. You can buy capsules containing the seeds that have been ground into a powder. You may also find liquid extracts prepared from the leaves or the whole plant.

What is in the plant and its seeds that may promote health? Here’s a closer look.

Antioxidants and other phytochemicals

The premise of herbal medicine is that plants are rich in natural substances that can support your health. These beneficial plant compounds include phytochemicals.

Every part of Mimosa pudica contains phytochemicals. The leaves are highest in these compounds compared to the rest of the plant. Still, you’ll find phytochemicals throughout the plant, including in the stems and seeds. (9)

Mimosa pudica is especially rich in phytochemical groups called flavonoids and phenolics. These have been linked with helping prevent heart disease and cancer, as well as promoting healthy aging. One likely reason for this is their antioxidant properties. (9, 10)

Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and may help reduce damage to your cells. This helps prevent oxidative stress in your tissues. In turn, this may decrease your risk of certain diseases.

Mimosa pudica also contains phytochemicals called alkaloids (mimosine is one), glycosides, and tannins. These likely also contribute to the plant’s antioxidant benefits and other health properties. (10)

Traditional medicine uses

In Ayurveda and other forms of traditional medicine, many different parts and formulations of the plant have been used. Research is starting to substantiate these uses.

Here are some examples of traditional uses of Mimosa pudica that scientists have confirmed in preliminary studies:

  • Antiparasitic: In a test-tube study, an extract of Mimosa pudica leaves inactivated the larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis — a parasitic roundworm — within just one hour. Several other herbs that were tested took up to three days to have this effect. (11)
  • Asthma relief: Animal and test-tube research suggest that a whole plant extract of Mimosa pudica may help reduce mucus secretion in cases of asthma. It may also inhibit mast cells — immune cells that release histamine and other inflammatory chemicals. (12)
  • Liver protectant: When rodents were injected with a liver toxin, an extract of Mimosa pudica leaves helped to prevent liver damage. In fact, the extract performed equally as well as a standard liver-protective drug. (13)
  • Antiviral: A test-tube study found that an extract prepared from the whole Mimosa pudica plant completely stopped the mumps virus from replicating. The researchers thought this may have been due to certain phytochemicals in the plant. (14)
  • Antianxiety: In a rodent study, an extract of Mimosa pudica leaves had a similar effect on curbing anxiety as the drug diazepam (Valium). That may be because it helped activate receptors for GABA. This nerve messenger has a calming effect. (15)
  • Blood sugar control: When mice with type 2 diabetes were given a compound extracted from Mimosa pudica stems, they had a 56% reduction in fasting blood sugar compared to mice not given the extract. (16)
  • Antidepressant: Giving rodents an extract of Mimosa pudica leaves for 30 days produced effects similar to two standard antidepressant medications. (17)
  • Wound healing: When a salve made with Mimosa pudica extract was applied to animals’ wounds, it supported healing equally as well as a standard medicinal ointment. The healing benefits may have been due in part to phenolics in the extract. (18)

Clearly, the plant itself has many potential health benefits. Still, the seeds have some special uses.

Unique Benefits of Mimosa Pudica Seed

Unique Benefits of Mimosa Pudica Seed

Though the Mimosa pudica plant captivates people and scientists alike, it’s the seeds that are becoming a prominent part of functional medicine protocols.

What’s in these seeds that could make them valuable to your health?

Their sticky gel can bind toxins and pathogens

If you’ve ever used a sticky insect or rodent trap, you’ll easily understand how Mimosa pudica seeds help bind toxins and pathogens.

When combined with water, powdered Mimosa pudica seeds quickly create a sticky gel. This glue-like substance is formed from two carbohydrate-derived compounds — glucuronic acid and xylose — that are present in the seeds. (1, 19)

The same thing happens when you take Mimosa pudica seed capsules orally. In your gut, the capsules break down, and the powdered seeds absorb watery fluids, becoming a sticky gel.

This gel has a gut-scrubbing action that may help pull out heavy metals and other toxins, parasites, bacteria, and biofilm. Think of biofilm as a blanket that hides harmful microbes.

By grabbing onto these unwanted critters, toxins, and intestinal buildup, Mimosa pudica seed enables their elimination via your stools. This promotes gut health.

Getting rid of the bad guys in your gut also helps reduce the burden on your immune system. Who doesn’t need that?

Benefits beyond binding?

Mimosa pudica seed may have benefits beyond binding unwanted compounds. For example, it could support structural health, such as cell membranes and connective tissues in your body.

Remember the glucuronic acid and xylose in the seeds? These compounds are involved in the formation of connective tissues in your body. That includes the cartilage that cushions your joints and the connective tissue just below your gut wall. (20)

More specifically, your body uses glucuronic acid for the formation of chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, and other components of cartilage and other connective tissues. Xylose is also involved in cartilage formation. (21, 22)

These compounds may be one reason why Mimosa pudica has helped heal wounds in traditional medicine and preliminary studies. They may also help to heal your gut lining.

Additionally, glucuronic acid is involved in phase II detoxification in your liver. This is part of a process your body uses to prepare toxins for removal, ultimately via your urine or stools. That includes harmful substances like drugs, pollutants, and toxins produced by parasites.

If your body doesn’t have enough of the nutrients needed for liver support and detoxification, your health could suffer.  

How to Take Mimosa Pudica Seed

For the most detoxification support, it’s generally advised to take Mimosa pudica seed on an empty stomach. This means at least 20 minutes before or at least 2 hours after meals, such as first thing in the morning and at bedtime.

Still, if you’re super sensitive, you may want to start by taking it with meals. Once your body adjusts to it, you can transition to taking it on an empty stomach.

Regardless of when you take Mimosa pudica seed, you should always keep it one hour away from carbon-based binders. Supplements containing carbon-based binders can bind Mimosa pudica seed and reduce its effectiveness. This is also true of traditional binders like activated charcoal.

It’s simplest to take Mimosa pudica seed in capsules. If you prefer, you can add the powdery contents of the capsules to liquids and drink the mixture. For example, you can add the powder to a little maple syrup or avocado oil. The seeds are fat-soluble, so they readily mix with oil.

Taking the powdered seeds in water doesn’t work as well because the mixture quickly forms a gel. You may find this unpleasant to drink.

Regardless of how you prefer to take Mimosa pudica seed, you can adjust the dosage based on your needs. You can also consider periodically doing a challenge with extra doses and specialized protocols to help maximize the benefits.

Watch a quick demonstration of how Mimosa pudica seed transforms into a sticky gel when immersed in water:

Befriend Mimosa Pudica Seed

Though it may be new to you, the fascinating Mimosa pudica plant has a long tradition of use to support health. Its benefits range from antioxidant protection to wound healing and have been confirmed in preliminary studies.

Additionally, functional medicine practitioners are finding Mimosa pudica seed especially helpful for gut and immune health.

The gut-scrubbing action of the powdered, hydrated seeds could help clean out toxins, pathogens, and biofilm in your gut. That means a healthy gut and a happy immune system.

Could Mimosa pudica seed be the gut health solution you’ve been searching for?


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