MISSOURI GIRL EATS WEEDS
Wed, 08/18/2021 - 12:13pm admin
Ann J. Hines, PhD
Not to disappoint anyone, but this article isn’t about the brunch drink made from orange juice and champagne. Nor is it about the tree from the Indian subcontinent which has hallucinogenic properties. Nevertheless, our own Missouri mimosa tree holds its own with its exotic pink plumes and lacey branches that make it appear as if it belongs in a more tropical locale. And when you hear about its benefits, you’ll appreciate it all the more.
Also called the Persian Silk Tree, and the Tree of Happiness, and scientifically distinct by its Latin name, albizia julibrissin, it grows all over the US and most of the world. It is revered in Chinese medicine for its benefits relating to stress-handling and mood. It is notable for promoting a calm mood and restful sleep. Containing ample antioxidants, it has been used traditionally to aid digestion and relieve gas. Also touted for decreasing inflammation and the histamine response, think of these pink blossoms next time you’re suffering from seasonal allergies. When the bark is used in a liniment, it promotes wound healing, reduces swelling, and soothes insect bites. Its analgesic properties aid sore muscles.
Because it supports the function of the adrenal glands, it has the distinction of being deemed an adaptogen, meaning it helps our bodies cope with stress. It reportedly promotes the body’s ability to regulate the HPA axis, meaning the communication between the hypothalamic, pituitary and adrenal glands, which is a critical piece of your body’s hormone-based stress response system. Uniquely, it has also been used traditionally for those experiencing grief, loss and depression.
When I have access to a lot of fresh blossoms, I fill a canning jar, (gently, not packing them) and pour vodka over the blossoms to make a tincture. I do the same with the bark. This year, the blossoms on my trees were too high to reach, leaving me with only a small amount harvested. So I’ve combined them with other edible flowers in an oxymel.
From the Latin meaning “acid and honey,” oxymels are a way to preserve medicinal herbs and draw out their beneficial qualities. Simple to make, and beautiful to look at, oxymels are a wonderful method. Combine roughly equal parts blossoms, raw apple cider vinegar, and raw local honey. You can add other edible flowers and leaves to your oxymel for their medicinal qualities and for beauty. Cover and store on a cool shelf, out of the sun. You can then use the liquid to flavor tonic water, add to fruit-based pancake syrup or drizzle over fruit salad or yogurt, depending on the combination you use and the flavors it imparts.
To see how my oxymel turns out, or to share your own, join the Missouri Girl Eats Weeds Facebook Group.