Visiting Sitio Upian in Marilog Village, Marilog District in the Philippines with the Kinaiyahan Foundation Inc., which has some projects there, introduced me to a weed that the Matigsalug tribe have been using to cure toothache.

But they only refer to it as generic sagbot (or weed). After posting it on social media to crowdsource information, I was led to the toothache plant or Spilanthes acmella.

A recognized medicinal herb, it is said to be native to South America, and is one of 60 species that thrive in the tropics. How it ended up in the mountain villages inhabited by indigenous tribes, I don’t know. But one thing is sure, they know of its medicinal use.

The plant contains flavenoids, sterols, sesquiterpene lactones and amides, notably spilanthol. It’s the spilanthol, for which it is named for, which has the anaesthetic effect.

Although the natives in Upian only use the flowers to stave off a toothache, the blog said that one can also chew the leaves, although the flowers cause the most numbing.



The tribal folk merely crush the whole flower with the fingers and then stuff the whole flower in the tooth cavity. With no tooth cavity to experiment on, I rubbed the flower on my gums after crushing it, and felt a growing tingling sensation, and as I panicked I removed it with my tongue and spat it out… to my regret. It was even more numbing to the tongue. But the sensation soon faded away, and I was okay. The plants have also shown anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.

The plants have long been used in India for the treatment of gum diseases and dental caries. And it is a sialagogue, stimulating the salivary glands to increase flow of saliva and consequently promoting digestion.

Of note is that spilanthol is said to be a potent insecticie and can kill mosquito larvae at a concentration of 1/100,000.

Now, this is interesting information. Would anyone be interested to check this out to battle Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika?


SOURCE: SunStar Philippine

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