This article was written for the HAALo Botanicals newsletter titled The vHerbiage
The vHerbiage: Albizia
Albizia is a traditionally Chinese herb from the Mimosa, or Persian Silk, tree (though it has roots in many medicinal traditions from around the world). The flowers, which are actually a large cluster of long colorful stamens, are often compared to fireworks or starbursts, and have a soft silky feel - hence the origin of the name Persian Silk tree. In Nevada County, you can find the delicate leafy fronds and fluffy pink or yellow flowers growing in more temperate zones where it has access to water. To identify it, look for medium height trees with giant clusters of tiny-leafed stems, often hanging in shaggy looking fronds, and large puffy flowers that give the tree a broad and branchy body. With its color and bulkiness, once you can identify it, Albizia is easy to spot from a distance!
What is Albizia used for?
“Albizia is one of our all-star herbs,” says Shea Smith, HAALo’s owner.
And it’s no wonder. Albizia contains antioxidant, sedative, and analgesic properties - or in other words it has immune-boosting, sleep-inducing, and pain-relieving properties. This translates to providing relief to many different ailments, from anxiety, to insomnia, to pain, and even to dry and itchy skin.
Albizia is used both internally, via tea or tinctures, or externally, via balms or poultices. And both albizia flowers and bark are considered medicinal.
Referred to also as the happiness herb, “Albizia has been used for centuries to help with mental ailments like stress, anxiety, and depression”, says Shea.
It’s sedative properties dampen the nervous system and balance hormonal fluctuations when stressed or anxious. In doing so, it can also alleviate feelings of depression or irrational anger that arise from stress, or sudden hormone spikes or depletions.
Marza Millar, a local herbal practitioner, who follows the traditions of earth medicine, adds that in traditional Chinese medicine, it is often considered a calming spirit herb. “The bark anchors the spirit while the flowers lighten it”.
It is also useful in treating insomnia and promoting restful sleep. Here, stress and anxiety also play key roles, as the act of alleviating a frayed nervous system, also allows for a better night’s sleep.
Externally, the albizia bark can be used for trauma and injury. The antioxidant and analgesic qualities can reduce pain and swelling, promote blood circulation and regeneration of flesh, and help heal bone fractures. In certain applications it can also heal rashes, wounds, and acne.