I will continue to add to Category One of First Aid Herbs: Styptics but for this post I thought I would share two plants that are used for dental pain and dental healing.
Acmella oleracea or Spilanthes oleracea
Photo credit to My Garden Life
You can see why it's also known colloquially as the "Eyeball Plant" as well as the "Toothache Plant".
I mean, what better plant to blog about on Hallowe'en than something spooky looking and known as the "Eyeball" plant?
I chose this photo as an illustration, because you can visualize how proliferant it will be in a container if it is well cared for - more than enough for making healing remedies. I highly recommend growing your medicinal herbs in containers, for two important reasons:
(1) Many of the plants used in traditional healing are classified in many parts of the world as "weeds" because they are so prolific and will take over gardens if planted in the ground.
(2) Because you are going to use these plants for healing, you want the quality to be as high as possible. Therefore, start with good soil, supplement appropriately, and I water with filtered tap or rain water. Container gardening takes far less water to keep the plant healthy. Remember, many plants take up toxins and accumulate them, so you want any plants you are using for medicine or food to not be grown in conditions (soil, water) that allows them to accumulate toxins, esp heavy metals.
back to one of my earlier posts that the allopathic community is
getting worried about losing their customer base to Naturopathy and
Herbalism, even Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
is getting on the Integrative Medicine bandwagon and posting
information on herbs found in what they call "Traditional Medicine"
(they, as an allopathic institution are apparently allowed to call what
herbalists and Naturopaths do as "Traditional Medicine" but those who
actually practice it are not, because, reasons. Essentially, allopaths
treat using the term "Medicine (TM)" as a non registered trademark and
also threaten people with "practicing medicine (TM) without a license"
for just doing what they've done for thousands of years.) You will note
MSKCC calls the benefits "purported".
But enough of the rant. Moving on to some actual helpful information.
Spilanthes is a plant that was new to me, but has been known to, and used by, the herbal community in India for centuries.
When I was younger, oil of cloves was the OTC oral analgesic of choice readily available in drug stores. Most chains don't carry oil of cloves anymore, and it has been discontinued by many in the dental and herbal world because of unpleasant side effects. The active ingredient in oil of cloves is Eugenol, and its toxic side effects has been appearing in the literature on a more frequent basis. Another problem with Eugenol is that it is related to the capsaicin family (ie: chili peppers) and can badly burn small children if not diluted before applying. Eugenol and its derivatives are now under investigation as potential carcinogens if used long term because of the structural chemical similarity to alkenylbenzene, which is another one of the reasons it has lost favor with many in the dental community.
FWIW, I still have oil of cloves in my medicine cabinet and do use it for a variety of applications, including adding to some topical pain relieving salves and liniments.
Blogger "Jacob" over at his blog MyBioHack has done a very good job of gathering resources that explain the benefits of Spilanthes and its mechanisms of action.
For the purposes of this post, Spilanthes will be considered for its proven abilities as a topical analgesic for dental or oral pain, as an anti-histamine and for curing oral thrush (candida yeast infection). It also helps promote saliva production, which is important for good oral hygiene, especially for people who suffer from "dry mouth" syndrome.
As a note of caution: if you are going to use Spilanthes to manage dental pain, you can't use that as a substitute for not seeking treatment to determine the cause of the pain. Gingivitis, periodontitis, oral ulcers, abscesses, dental caries including those under crowns or fillings, broken/cracked/worn fillings and teeth are all examples of things that could cause enough dental pain that you want to seek pain relief that would need expert evaluation and treatment by a qualified dentist.
Oral ulcers can be an indicator of something more serious, like cancer, and untreated tooth abscesses can kill. Do not ignore seeking treatment if the pain is significant enough that you need pain relief and are using Spilanthes.
You can buy Spilanthes tinctures from Herbalists online, or you can grow Spilanthes plants yourself from seed and dry and use the flowers as the easiest way to benefit from the analgesic effects of this plant.
All parts of the Spilanthes plant can be used (roots, stems, leaves and flowers) and many Herbalists use the entire Spilanthes plant when making alcohol based tinctures for maximum potency.
In my case, we sampled small pieces of dried Spilanthes flowers. We were cautioned to take "small" pieces.
Let me just say, this is a very powerful plant. I did as directed and took a "small" piece of a dried flower head. Immediately I began to feel the tingling and the analgesic effect begin. The numbing effect lasted for several hours, and the nice thing about Spilanthes over other herbal plants we tried is that the relief was immediate, and long lasting.
In contrast, my lab partner, who should know better because she is an RN, took a HUGE piece of dried flower. Like, about 1/2 of an entire dried flower head. She had the same tingling/numbing/analgesic effect as the rest of us, but her entire mouth and tongue went completely numb AND she began drooling like a dog. Nonstop. Everywhere. From about 9 am at the beginning of lab until well after lunch.
So - forewarned is forearmed. A little of this perky plant goes a LONG way. Because it has many uses other than the mitigation of dental pain, I am growing it in my personal medicinal garden and it will be my first line choice for dental or oral pain and treatment of oral thrush. I am also growing some for my dentist based on her interest in herbalism, as part of my goodwill efforts to keep her in my personal SHTF rolodex of "go-to's".
Spilanthes is a member of the Asteraceae family, but is a unique plant in the family class and only thrives in warmer regions (US Zones 9 - 11). If you are in a more northern growing climate, you will need to grow it indoors. If it is container grown, you can bring it outside when the weather is warming for some visual interest on your patio or garden. It is easy to grow from seed but is not tolerant at all of frost.