In times gone by, people turned to plants to treat a wide range of illnesses. I can only imagine the pain people experienced in the days before dentistry. A toothache is bad enough even in this day and age but for most of human history, there was no dental profession to fix the pain. It is little wonder that people found plants that could ease their pain and suffering and Spilanthes acmella is just one of many.
Recent studies have found that the plant contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties making it a suitable natural remedy for toothache and oral disease but that is not all. The plant which is a native of Brazil has also been used for various other conditions including rheumatism, fungal infections, malaria and intestinal complaints. This article will take a detailed look at the potential uses of Spilanthes acmella and show you how to use it.
Spilanthes acmella is native to Brazil but now grows in various other tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world. It is widely distributed in parts of America, Africa, India, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Spilanthes is a genus comprised of around 60 species of plant. Spilanthes acmella was previously classified as a separate species from Spilanthes oleracea and both were referred to as the ‘toothache plant’. However, both plants have now been reclassified as a single species referred to scientifically as Acmella oleracea. Other names for the plant include paracress,Brazilcress, eyball plant and jambu.
Spilanthes acmella is an annual plant that grows to a height between 40 and 60 centimeters, It produces flowers in the shape of a gumdrop which start off yellow turning to a dark as you move to the center. The plant’s leaves have an opposite arrangement and grow from 3 to 5 centimeters in length.
Spilanthes acemella contains a number of active compounds including alkylamides (most notably – spilanthol), flavonoids, tannins, choline, sesquiterpenes, resins and phytosterols. The plant also contains an essential oil consisting of limonene, thymol, myrcene and β-caryophyllene.
Spilanthol has been the subject of much of the research into the plant. Studies have revealed this sharp tasting compound has analgesic and anesthetic properties as well as excellent insecticide properties.
The best-known use of Spilanthes acmilla is for treating toothache and other oral issues. However, while it is still commonly known as the ‘toothache plant’, it does have a number of other common uses.
According to research, Spilanthes acmella has natural diuretic properties. (1) This means it can be used like a water pill to increase the production of urine and the frequency of urination. Natural diuretics can help treat a range of conditions including kidney infections and urinary tract infections.
Digestive Health and Scurvy
Splicanthes acmella has traditionally been used to boost digestive health and to tackle diseases like scurvy. Research suggests that the plant can be used as a natural remedy for scurvy and can also work as a natural digestive aid. (2)
Scurvy is a common condition caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. According to research, Spilanthes acmella can help prevent scurvy.
Spilanthes acmella has traditionally been used as an anti-malarial in parts of the world like Africa. According to research, the compound called Spilanthol contained in the plant has powerful antimicrobial activity against the bacteria responsible for malaria – Plasmodium falcparum. (3)
Rheumatism and Arthritis
Studies have revealed that Spilanthes acmella has excellent anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat internal and external inflammation. It also has excellent pain relieving properties making it suitable for a range of conditions.
There are very few studies into the effects of the plant of the plant on gastrointestinal disease. However, one of the traditional uses of the plant is to help treat gastrointestinal issues.
In Indonesia, people chew on the flower head to promote the production of saliva. The roots are used in the Philippines to treat constipation while the roots are also chewed to treat upset stomach. (5)
Skin Care and Wrinkles
Spilanthol acmella can also be applied topically to the skin to help boost your skin’s health and even to eradicate the appearance of skin blemishes and wrinkles.
The plant has excellent antioxidant effects that can help boost the skin’s general health and appearance. It can also help boost the production of collagen in the skin and is used extensively in commercial skin care preparations.
According to proponents, an extract made with Spilanthol can be applied topically to help reduce wrinkles and lead to smoother, healthier looking skin.
The plant is most famous for its uses in dental care. It has excellent anti-inflammatory properties as well as anesthetic and analgesic effects that make it the ideal natural remedy for toothache and other painful oral conditions.
Spilanthes acmella has traditionally been used to treat toothache which is why it earned its common name ‘toothache plant’.
It has been used in a number of ways to help ease the pain of toothache. The flower heads are sometimes chewed to deaden the pain and numb pain stemming from tooth infection as well as gum, throat and tongue pain.
According to research, the compound found in the plant called spilanthol is responsible for the analgesic and anesthetic effects of the plant. (6)
Studies done on animals have showed that spilanthes acmella exerted local anesthetic effects comparable with xylocaine. (7)
Spilanthol is sometimes used as an ingredient in mouth washes and toothpaste. Not only does it help numb and deaden pain but it can also provide a fresh feeling in the mouth and increase the production of saliva which boosts the appetite.
Peridonitis is a very painful condition cause by inflammation in the gums. Chewing on the roots and flower heads can decrease inflammation in the gums and can also help relieve pain allowing people to eat more comfortably.
Studies have also demonstrated that Spilanthes acmella has antimicrobial properties which are effective against a number of different bacterial strains. Extracts of the plant have proven effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus Epidermidi, Salmonella typhi and Shigella dysenteriae. (8)
Spilanthes acmella has also been used traditionally to help treat a variety of other conditions. these include flu, fever, and kidney and liver complaints. It has also been applied topically to treat a variety of inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and to help treat minor wounds, bites and burns.
How to Use Spilanthes Acmella
Spilanthes acmella is used in a number of different ways.
For toothache, you can make a tincture with the flowers and leaves to help relieve tooth and mouth pain. To get a numbing effect, you can use the tincture as a mouthwash and swish a few drops around your mouth for a few minutes before spitting it out. You can also chew on the flower heads or roots to get a similar pain killing effect.
For throat pain, mix your tincture with water or with a tea made from the flowers. To make a tea, you can add 8oz of the flowers to boiling water and let the mixture steep for ten minutes or so. Strain, cool and use the tea as a gargle and your pain will be eased for 20 minutes or so.
The plant is still used as a culinary ingredient in parts of Brazil. In certain provinces like Pará. Amazonas and Acre, the flower is widely used as an ingredient in cooking. The leaves are chopped fine and used in salads and are also used as a leafy green vegetable in many dishes. The fresh or boiled leaves can be used in various soup and stew dishes to add flavor and nutrients.
A tea can also be used by adding a tablespoon of the dried or fresh herb to a cup of boiled water.
There are no recommended dosage guidelines for the plant. If you buy any commercial products containing the plant, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines carefully.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Spilanthes acmella good for?
Spilanthes acmella is known as the ‘toothache plant’ and is most famously used for treating toothache pain and peridontal issues. It is also used for a number of other reasons including malaria, inflammation, rheumatism, gout and inflammatory skin conditions.
Is Spilanthes acmella edible?
Yews. The flowers and leaves are used as a cooking ingredient in Brazil. you can also use the dried flowers and leaves to make a tea.
Is toothache plant safe?
We have little safety information regarding the safety of the plant in humans. It is however commonly consumed in parts of South America and no serious side effects have been reported. If you are unsure, please speak with your doctor before using the plant in any of its forms.
Side Effects and Precautions
- There are no known adverse side effects from using Spilanhtes acmella but you should still exercise caution.
- Nothing is known about the herb’s safety for pregnant women or nursing mothers. Stay on the side of caution and avoid using the plant.
- Excessive use may cause skin irritation.
- The plant is believed to have diuretic properties so avoid using it if you are taking prescribed diuretic medication or any pother diuretic herb.
Have you ever use Spilanthes acmella for toothache or any other condition? Let us know what you thought of it and whether you would recommend it.