Spilanthes acmela, generally called Spilanthes among modern herbalists, is an often unsung hero for acute conditions. The moniker Toothache Plant describes just the kind of acute conditions which Spilanthes has treated through the ages. Like Cayenne and Clove, Spilanthes offers speedy numbing to painful conditions, including both internal and external wounds, ulcerations, rashes, and inflammation. It has powerful immunostimulant properties, making Spilanthes a go-to for staving off colds, flus, and infections of many types.

Spilanthes and TCM

From a Traditional Chinese Medicinal perspective, Spilanthes shares a diffusive quality with Lobelia. It tends to break-up stuck or stagnant energies, getting them moving up and out of the system quickly. Unlike Lobelia, Spilanthes is unlikely to induce vomiting, although it will get your salivary glands pumping quickly. Spilanthes actions are stimulant, diffusive, and warming; it encourages the body to clear away waste and inflammation while numbing and reducing pain. It’s warming action makes it a good choice for conditions of a cold or stuck nature, including bi syndrome conditions.

Spilanthes and Ayurveda

Ayurvedic practitioners may recognize Spilanthes under the name Sarahattika. It’s long been included in formulas for flu and cold prevention, fighting off infections, and pain of many origins but most especially those associated with the neck, throat, mouth, and nose or upper respiratory system. Based on traditional usage, it seems that Spilanthes has a particular affinity for the throat and the fifth chakra, which is associated with self-expression. It gets Kapha and Vata moving while supporting Pitta through it’s strong effect on the salivary glands, which stimulate the digestive system and thus fire-up Pitta.

Spilanthes and Traditional Western Herbalism

What I love about Spilanthes, beyond it’s powerful herbal actions, is how much it teaches us about herbal energetics. Natalie Vickery of The Family Herbalist blog offers a wonderfully detailed explaination of how each of Spilanthes dominant qualities translates into the experience of eating a fresh Spilanthes leaf or flower. Spilanthes actions within the Traditional Western Herbalist’s perspective are relaxing, warming, and diffusive. It is likely to move one more toward the Sanguine and Choleric end of the scale, making it a terrific herb for breaking up stagnant or too-earthy conditions and warming and drying too phlegmatic conditions.

Spilanthes as Spirit Medicine

From a psycho-spiritual perspective, Spilanthes teaches us to be bold and clear about our self-expression. With those shocking, bright flowers and Spilanthes undeniable effect, this is a teacher who models her lessons with flair, drama, and uncompromising self-assurance!

The red, yellow, and sometimes orange hues of Spilanthes flowers speaks to a deeper lesson in self-expression that it may appear on the surface. While the surface action of this plant is bold and dramatic, the colors of the flowers connect Spilanthes strongly with the lower chakras. This suggests that Spilanthes offers us the wisdom of being fully grounded in who we are and in drawing on our foundational energies as we create our lives and express our passions. Folks who are struggling with finding themselves or with finding their voice are Spilanthes people; her lesson is in learning to be a Queen rooted in the beauty and power that’s uniquely you.