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The leaves of the mimosa pudica close rapidly after being touched. This has earned it many nicknames including shameful plant, touch-me-not, and sensitive plant. The names are rather ironic considering that many of the traditional medical uses of the plant are for conditions that people might find embarrassing. Herbal remedies for hemorrhoids, leprosy, diarrhea, and intestinal worms often make use of the herb. It is also used to treat many less-embarrassing conditions including arthritis, fever, and muscle pain.
Having intestinal parasites may be considered embarrassing, but the condition can become quite serious. For centuries, mimosa pudica was vital in eliminating certain parasitic worms from the human body. Today, the herb is still used by those wishing to avoid the severe diarrhea that has been reported with harsher prescription drugs.
In the past, herbal poultices were relied upon to treat problems in the rectal and vaginal areas. Often, a paste made from the roots and leaves of the mimosa pudica plant was applied to hemorrhoids to stop bleeding and reduce swelling. Vaginal infections that easily could have led to infertility and possible death were also treated with the herb. These preparations are still available for these conditions, but they are primarily used in addition to mainstream medicine.
Although some of the classic uses of mimosa pudica have fallen out of favor, the herb still has a host of uses as alternative medicine. Generally considered to have anti-inflammatory properties, the herb is an excellent choice for use in complementary treatment of edema and arthritis. It can also help to reduce pain from injury and muscle cramps and, as such, is regularly recommended for restless leg syndrome. There are many individuals that even swear that the herb is useful as an aphrodisiac.
Mainstream medicine is beginning to take notice of mimosa pudica as well. One study, conducted in 2008 and reported by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, determined that the seeds of the herb would be suitable for a binding agent for prescription medication. Another study, conducted in 2010 by the College of Pharmacy in Tamil Nadu, India, concluded that the leaves of the plant contained hypolipidemic chemicals that functioned as well in laboratory animals as medications currently on the market.
It is important to note that herbal supplements are not held to the same testing standards as prescription medications in most countries. As a result, there are far fewer unbiased studies on their effectiveness. Incidences of drug interactions and side effects are also often underreported. It is advised to consult a physician before beginning any herbal regimen.