Spilanthes acmella
This information describes the common uses of Spilanthes acmella, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Jambu, Toothache plant, Electric daisy, Paracress, Buzz buttons, Schezuan buttons

How It Works

Spilanthes, also known as the “toothache plant”, may have numbing and pain-relieving effects, but human data are lacking.

Spilanthes is an herbaceous plant that belongs to the daisy family. It is recognized in traditional medicine throughout Asia and South America for a variety of properties including anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and aphrodisiac effects. The leaves are used as food sources. The flowers of Spilanthes have earned it the name “toothache plant” for their numbing and pain-relieving effects.

Spilanthes has also been noted to stimulate taste and improve saliva flow. Therefore, whether it could help side effects from cancer treatments such as dry mouth, mouth sores and inflammation, or changes in taste sensation may be of interest to researchers. However very few studies have been conducted and none of them have yet been done in humans.

Purported Uses

Toothache or gum infections
Studies in the lab suggest that Spilanthes may protect against certain bacterial and dental infections, but there are no human data.

Sore throat or sore mouth
Studies in the lab suggest that Spilanthes may have a numbing effect and reduce inflammation, but studies have not yet been conducted in humans.

Inflammation and wound healing
Animal studies suggest that compounds in Spilanthes may protect against or possibly heal ulcers.

Do Not Take If

  • You are using a diuretic (water pill) for blood pressure or for swelling: Animal studies show Spilanthes can promote urination and may increase the risk of adverse effects.
  • You have prostate cancer: Animal studies show that Spilanthes stimulates male hormone production, especially at high doses. This may affect the actions of the drugs used to treat prostate cancer.
  • You are pregnant: Animal studies suggest the potential for birth defects with high doses of this botanical.

Side Effects

In general, human data are lacking.

Case Report

Painful lip swelling: In a 42-year-old healthy man who presented to the emergency department. The suspected cause was an appetizer of “Szechuan buttons” ingested several days earlier, in the absence of any other explanation.

Special Point

Spilanthes, an herbaceous plant that grows in tropical and subtropical regions, should not be confused with jambu madu or wax jambu, which are names for the wax apple fruit tree that is widely cultivated in Southeast Asia.