Friday, June 6, 2008

Toothache Plant (Spilanthes acmella) UPDATED PICS!

My Spilanthes seeds are finally coming up nicely. I was beginning to think I'd dreamed the whole Planting of the Spilanthes, but there they are, nice as pie, and thriving (so far).

A member of the Asteraceae family, Spilanthes acmella is an East Indian tropical native (USDA Zone 10-11!) but I'm giving her a try here in Zone 7 anyway, with a strong feeling she will behave as an annual. Normally she should be spaced 24 to 30 inches and should reach somewhere between 12 and 15 inches in height. I've babied her like no other plant in my garden, and so far so good. Once again in my seed paranoia I planted way too many, so I've also thinned her several times and plan to try and transplant some of the babies on the next round. We'll just have to see how that goes. She's reported to enjoy high humidity and regular watering in well-drained soil, so planting her in one of my raised beds in this crazy Alabama weather is definitely in our favor! She blooms all summer into early fall, loves full sun, is heat and frost tolerant, and requires only low maintenance {two thumbs up!}. I bought my Spilanthes seeds (along with a whole bunch of other herbs) from

Her common name is a dead giveaway, but here goes anyway! Chewing the flower buds and/or leaves (which have a peppery flavor) produces a numbing effect that can ease toothaches and gum pain. I once heard Rosemary Gladstar say in a live webcast that Spilanthes is her favorite herb for teething babies, and tooth pain in general. It also stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva, and may function as a simple tonic for healthy gums. I have some guinea pigs ... I mean family members who suffer from gum disease, so they're going to be trying Spilanthes this year! :D

Harvest Spilanthes leaves and flower buds as needed. The dried flower buds are great in teas! I like to use a 1:1 mix of catnip and spilanthes tea for fussy, teething babies and children. It's not too shabby as a mild sedative for worn out parents, either. It's also yummy with Lemon Balm and Ginger.

A Spilanthes tincture is said to ease toothache from a decayed tooth with remarkable efficiency!

Here's some info on Spilanthes I snatched from A mouth rinse of spilanthes extract can be used daily to promote gum health, and chewing as little as a single bud of the plant can numb the mouth and reduce the pain of toothache for up to 20 minutes depending on the sensitivity of the person. The most promising research into the use of spilanthes, though, is in its antibacterial properties. So far, in vitro testing has shown that the plant's extract has strong effect against E.coli, pseudomonas, salmonella, klebsiella pneumonae and staphylococcus albus (sorry, no link for that one .. you'll have to google it), as well as inhibiting the growth of candida albicans.

I think that's one very interesting and beautiful flower, don't you? I wish I could mail out some of my extra plants to my readers, but I just don't think she'd make the trip. I'm sure I can find some locals to share with!



I've recently started a jar of Spilanthes tincture and thought I'd share my method with you in case you're curious: Loosely fill a glass jar (I am tincturing a pint of spilanthes but do use quarts sometimes for tinctures, especially yarrow) with "arial", or above-ground Spilanthes plant material (leaves, stems, blooms) and cover with 100 proof vodka. Cap and label, then wait six weeks. Strain (or don't, it's up to you), and your tincture is ready for use! Besides being a famous toothache remedy, Spilanthes tincture enhances immune system function and is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial & is used to treat candida.

I did take a bite out of one, though, and joyously report that it did, in fact, numb my mouth! :D

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Unknown said...

Hey, I really like to have some seed. it great job you have planted the toothache plant.
From Eric.

Anonymous said...

i planted a toothache plant about 4 months ago and a friend wanted it so i dug it up and gave it to her. Since then my garden (and areas outside the garden) are teeming with this plant...its taken over any open area it could find. Its really cool looking and I finally tried a leaf today...not sure if I like the taste or not but am willing to try it in a salad. I live in Tampa...don't know much about "zones" but this plant is certainly flourishing here and seems very happy!!!

Anonymous said...

I had a farmer come to my college the other day and he brought among many other things the eyeball flower that you refer to here. This plant has got to be one of the weidest things I have ever tried, it truly is an experience. After having it myself I encouraged several other people to try it.