Spilanthes acmella commonly known as toothache plant is not an herb I’ve worked with very much until recently. However, I am intrigued by this plant as a teacher as it has so much to offer in just taste and sensation. If you want to truly feel the power of plant medicine you must try Spilanthes. Either by chewing on one of the leaves or flower buds of the plant you will almost instantly note the effect this plant has within the body. Spilanthes is a wonderful plant to help you understand terms like Sialogogue, acrid, aromatic, stimulant and diffusive.
When you begin to chew on Spilanthes your mouth will start to salivate wildly. Spilanthes will truly help you understand the effect or action of a “Sialogogue”…which is an agent that “stimulates” the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands. As Spilanthes increases salivation (Sialogogue) enzymes are excreted which help to break down the starches and fats in food. Saliva also contains antibacterial compounds which help to protect teeth and gums. Another thing that occurs when you chew on Spilanthes is that it numbs the area of the mouth and tongue temporarily. Granted, the numbness is only brief and so therefore the effect will be more palliative, but useful.
Another reaction that will occur while chewing is that your mouth and tongue will begin to tingle almost like the feeling you have when you touch your tongue to a battery. This is not an uncomfortable feeling, but rather a distinct sensation that awakens your senses and imparts the power of the plant throughout your mouth and excites the nerve endings. This sensation or impression is known as “Diffusive”…the effect of spreading or dispersing. A diffusive increases the circulation and movement of the herbs constituents throughout the body. The sensation you get from chewing the plant occurs very rapidly which is another great example of how a diffusive works. That tingling sensation that you feel also indicates that the herb is stimulating an immune reaction. There are a number of other plants which impart this tingling sensation to include Echinacea, Ginger and Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis)
Just by chewing on the plant and experiencing these sensations it will help you to understand a great deal about its healing actions and benefits. Spilanthes is aromatic and acrid in its impression. Herbs which are Aromatic help to disperse cold, (because most are warming); they move stagnation and bring blood and nutrients into an area. If you think about an area that has been bound up and where very little is moving (stagnation) you can imagine that area will feel tense. However, once the tension is dispelled or dispersed the area once again feels relaxed. Therefore, aromatic herbs are also considered to be relaxing and carminative (antispasmodic). Aromatic herbs also contain essential oils that are known to be antiseptic as well as antimicrobial (inhibits the growth of organisms such as bacteria, fungi and protozoan’s).
Based on the taste and impression we get from Spilanthes we can consider it for use with various infections such as cold or flu and common fungal infections such as ringworm, vaginal yeast, athlete’s foot and jock itch. Other uses for Spilanthes might include viral outbreaks of cold sores and herpes and conditions associated with parasitic infections. Spilanthes as its common name implies is also beneficial for toothaches as well as abscesses of the gums and sore throats.
One other little note about Spilanthes is that it acts as an aphrodisiac stimulant for male Wistar albino rats having a “positive effect on mounting frequency, intromission frequency and ejaculation frequency”. This information may come in handy if you have rats that may be experiencing some difficulties in that department.
To truly understand the effects and nuances of plants you have to use them, know how they taste and what sensations or impression they impart. Spilanthes is truly the plant to help you explore the actions of herbs through taste and sensation.