What is Tepezcohuite?
Tepezcohuite, also known by the name mimosa tenuiflore, is a bark tree native to southern Mexico. It has a long history in traditional medicine in the region, often referred to as the skin tree for its skin healing properties. Traditionally it was ground into a powder and then formed into a paste that was applied to the wound. There is some historical record that suggests that it was used by the Mayans to treat burns and cuts.
In more recent history, tepezcohuite was used by the Red Cross after the San Juanico disaster in Mexico City to treat the burns of 500 survivors of a gas explosion. Its ability to heal the skin was noticed after the 1984 explosion and was later used again to treat the injuries of the Michoacán earthquake survivors in 1986. Tepezcohuite’s properties have not been confirmed in scientific research, mostly due to a lack of funding for research into this ingredient. However, anecdotally, it is claimed that the bark has highly potent skin regenerative abilities and can heal burns by promoting healing and the growth of healthy skin. Tepezcohuite’s skincare properties are suspected of coming from the high content of nutrients in its bark.
Because of these skin regenerative properties, some companies have started adding tepezcohuite extract into their creams, with the idea of keeping the skin healthy by helping it heal faster. As such, the manufacturers often make a wide range of claims, suggesting that the tepezcohuite cream can treat anything from eczema to stretch marks. Before it was formulated into a cream, the bark would often be prepared with water to wash farm animals, as it is thought to have anti-microbial properties and can induce wound healing.
the good: May have anti-microbial properties that help to heal the skin, potentially improving skin cell turnover and regeneration.
the not so good:There has been little scientific research into this ingredient, making much of the information around this ingredient, anecdotal. There is a lot of value in the knowledge of traditional medicines, but the funding has not been afforded to research into this ingredient.
Who is it for?All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.
Keep an eye on:Look out for more scientific research.
What Are the Benefits of Tepezcohuite for The Skin?
The anecdotal evidence, particularly in its use after the two disasters, has supported the claims that tepezcohuite may be useful in improving the appearance of scars and heal the skin. It is thought that due to the presence of flavonoids, a naturally occurring antioxidant that tepezcohuite might have an application in anti-aging products. Additionally, some of the other compounds found in the bark may help support the skin’s natural barrier, preventing moisture loss and giving your skin that hydrated, plumped look.
The antibacterial properties of the bark have not been thoroughly studied; this is in part due to the lack of interest in this ingredient in the mainstream west. The potential combination between the antioxidants, skin barrier protection, and antibacterial effects may be the reason we have seen tepezcohuite has such strong anecdotal evidence for wound healing.
As is the case with many plant-based ingredients, they are not just one simple ingredient. More often than not, they are a complex mixture of several different compounds. This can make them a little tricky for sensitive skin types. Here are some of the main identified components of tepezcohuite bark:
- Glucosides: This is derived from glucose or sugar. Glucosides may act as a mild cleanser to the skin.
- Lipids: Lipids are fats, found in all living cells. Lipids may help to support the skin’s moisture barrier, protecting the skin from moisture loss to the environment. A healthy skin barrier can also protect the skin from allergens and bacteria. Disruption of the skin’s barrier has been linked to skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
- Tannins: Tannins have been studied for their potential to reduce inflammation. While this research is still in the preliminary stages, the evidence supports the claim. Reduction in inflammation has previously been associated with a decrease in the visible signs of aging.
- Xylose: Xylose is a natural sugar found in wood. It is theorized that this sugar may also help to maintain a healthy skin barrier.
- Flavonoids: Valued for their antioxidant properties, flavonoids are included in skincare products to repair skin damaged by UV radiation and environmental factors.
Is Tepezcohuite Safe?
As tepezcohuite has not undergone research into its safety or effects, there is little evidence to support any safety claims. However, anecdotally, tepezcohuite has not been associated with any adverse reaction or side effects. Tepezcohuite has been known to produce changes in pregnancy development when animals that ingest element of the tree. The tepezcohuite tree also contains psychoactive compounds that may have adverse effects.
Cruz, M et al., 2016. ‘Antinociceptive and Anti-inflammatory Activities of the Ethanolic Extract, Fractions and Flavones Isolated from Mimosa tenuiflora’, PloS one, vol. 11, is.3. Rodrìguez, J, et al., 2012. ‘Evaluation Of The Capacity of Granulation In Surgical Wounds With Condensed Tannins in Matrices Tio2’, Nanostructured Materials and Nanotechnology, pp. 63-68.