An Experience with Collective Happiness Bark

Cx. Albizzia aka He Huan Pi, aka Mimosa, aka Collective Happiness Bark is one of my favorite herbs in the Chinese Materia Medica but I know almost no practitioners who use this herb.  I think the reason for the general lack of use of Collective Happiness Bark is because it is not used in the major formulas.  Most practitioners I come across have little experience creating individually tailored herbal formulas so they mainly utilize patent formulas which rarely if ever contain the herb. 

Collective Happiness Bark enters the Heart and Liver Meridians and soothes Stagnant Liver Qi, invigorates the Blood while calming the spirit and relieving irritability, depression and constrained emotions.  Probably the most common pattern of disharmony that is seen in the United States is Liver Qi Stagnation.  Liver Qi Stagnation often arises with stuck feelings of anger, frustration or grief.  In a country that puts forth the mythos of attaining the American Dream on every television program and marketing campaign, few actually achieve the desired outcome.  This leads to anger which over time turns to chronic low level frustration, grief and helplessness.  Chinese Medicine recognized that emotional states effect the physical body and sought to aid person's emotional health via modalities such as acupuncture and herbs.  Most practitioners of Chinese Medicine will default to the use of Chai Hu/Bupleurum formulas such  as Xiao Yao Tang.  Chai Hu can be drying and if used for long periods of time may cause damage to the yin or fluids.  I have found Collective Happiness Bark to be much less drying than Chai Hu and therefore it can be used for longer periods of time.  Additionally He Huan Pi enters the Heart and Liver meridians while Chai Hu mainly works on the Liver and Gallbladder meridians.  While most of the time practitioners speak about Liver Qi Stagnation or Liver Spleen disharmony (where the Liver acts in an overbearing manner on the digestive function of the body) I find it common to see Liver Heart disharmony.  This usually manifests as Stagnant Liver Qi causing low level constrained heat in the body.  Using heat clearing herbs doesn't work long term because the root of the problem is the stagnation not the heat.  Heat is the by product therefore the strategy must be to circulate the heat out instead of clearing the heat.  Sometimes this will show up with the a red tipped tongue or a red tip with a "hammer" tongue or a small split on the tip of the tongue.  I think this pattern is actually more common than Liver Spleen Disharmony.  Collective Happiness Bark is great for this pattern. 

One day I had a client come in who was visibly distraught.  When I queried her about how she was doing she just stammered and had trouble articulating anything.  Her speech was somewhat confused.  I asked her if she would like some tea to which she responded affirmatively.  I quickly boiled a good deal of Collective Happiness Bark with a little Gan Mai Da Zao Tang to smooth it over.  She drank the tea and quickly after that she began crying.  All the constrained emotions came out and she felt much better. 

Collective Happiness Bark is an important and under utilized herb.  Check it out!  For your health! 

Andy Maher