Albizzia julibrissin bark is one of traditional sedative Chinese herbs that are good at soothing the nerves, getting rid of sorrow and delighting people. As such it is better known as He Huan Pi in mandarin, which is translated literally as “meet and enjoy bark”. As a matter of fact, albizia tree is best known for being a beautiful garden landscaping plants. Its flowers look like pretty pompon and carry with a kind of delicate fragrance; its leaves are peculiar because they shut at night and blossom in the daytime; its shade works like an umbrella for viewing. Beautiful as it is, what really matters to an herbalist or patient is its healing properties, isn’t it?
What is Albizzia julibrissin bark?
Medicinally it means the dried bark of Albizia julibrissin Durazz., a tree belonging to the family legume. And its other common names include mimosa tree bark, cortex albiziae, bark of silktree albizzia, albizzia julibrissin cortex, bark of albizia julibrissin, silk tree bark, albizzia bark, silktree albizzia bark, and so on. In China mimosa trees are distributed in most parts of China and medicinally it is commonly produced in provinces along the Yangtze River. Generally summer and autumn are the two best seasons for stripping off barks from the trees. After that it needs to be dried in the sun and cut into sections, and used raw.
This is a deciduous tree that can reaches up to 10 meters. Trunks are gray and black. Branchlets are glabrous but angular. Even pinnately compound leaf is alternate, 9 to 23cm in length, and with 3 to 6cm total petiole, 5 to 15 pairs of pinnae, and 11 to 30 pairs of sessile leaflets. Capitulum grows from branches and with pubescent peduncles, pale red flowers, about 2mm tubular calyx, funnel-shaped corolla, numerous stamens, and superior ovary. Pods are flat, 8 to 15cm long, 1 to 2.5cm wide, brown, and pubescent when young and falling off later. Seeds are oval, flat, and brown. Flowering period is from June to August and fruiting period is from August to October. Its habitats include slopes and roadsides. In addition, it is often cultivated in gardens.
Main chemical constituents in bark are saponins, tannins, flavonoids, a variety of lignans and their glycosides, and glucosides of pyripropanol derivatives.
Albizzia julibrissin benefits
Medicinally both albizia bark and albizzia flower (He Huan Hua) are widely used for the treatments of insomnia and neurasthenia. Now, commercially there are many related ready-made products available, such as albizzia bark tea, extract, herbal supplement, tincture, and so on. So, what is the mechanism behind such healing properties? From the point of view of TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine), this efficacy was initially found by the ancients who had observed a strange phenomenon about this tree – its leaves open during the day and close in the evening. Based on this fact, ancient herbalists inferred this herb should have the healing power on sleeping disorders. This may sound weird to you but it is the unique way the ancient used to understand the world. So, what does its pharmacology say about this herb?
Modern pharmacological actions on albizia herb
1. Its decoction and alcohol extract can prolong sleeping time in pentobarbital-treated mice;
2. They can also enhance its rhythmic contractions on the pregnant uterus and terminate early pregnancy or pregnancy;
3. Its water exact can enhance immune function while its alcohol extract can fight the tumors.
Common herbal remedies on albizzia bark
Chinese Materia Medica has clearly stated that it is sweet in flavor and neutral in properties and it goes to two meridians of heart and liver. Common functions include calming the nerves, resolving depression, and invigorating the circulation of blood to heal carbuncle. Fundamental albizia uses and indications are malaise, depression, insomnia, internal and external boils and carbuncles, and traumatic injury. Recommended albizia julibrissin dosage is from 10 to 15 grams in decoction, powder, and tea pills.
1. Huang Hun Tang. Huang Hun Tang, chosen from Qian Jin Fang (Thousand Pieces of Gold Formulae), uses this herb alone for lung abscess manifested as cough with slight fever, dysphoria, and scaly dry skin on chest.
2. He Huan Yin. He Huan Yin, from Jing Yue Quan Shu (Jingyue’s Complete Works), is mainly formulated for chronic non-healing lung abscess. Other herbal ingredient is Bai Lian (radix ampelopsis).
Albizia julibrissin side effects and contraindications
Albizzia julibrissin bark was rated with 2B by AHPA. That’s to say, pregnant women and children should stay away from this herb. And it is inadvisable to drive car or operate heavy equipment under the influence of this herb as it may lead to drowsiness and impaired judgment though such claim is kind of groundless. From the perspective of TCM it shouldn’t be used in cases of spontaneous perspiration due to wind-heat, sleeplessness caused by external infection. In addition, use it with care in the cases of ulcers and gastritis.