The most common and widespread use is to treat toothache and throat and gum infections. Worldwide, the flower heads are used either fresh or dried and powdered, but the use of roots and leaves has been recommended as well. The plant is further recommended as a cure for dysentery and rheumatism, and to enhance the immune system. It increases the flow of saliva and is useful in fever especially during summers.
It is used against blood parasites, especially against malaria, both prophylactic and curative.
Previous studies have also demonstrated its diuretic, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory activities.
These plants have an interesting chemistry, containing flavanoids, sterols, sesquiterpene lactones and amides, notably spilanthol, which has anaesthetic effects. Chewing one leaf is enough to numb the mouth and cause a tingling sensation on the tongue. The flowers are the most numbing part of the plant. Spilanthol is also a potent insecticide, able to kill mosquito larvae at a concentration of 1/100,000.
The tingling sensation has also caused rumours to spread regarding spilanthes’ application in oral sex.
“Eating a fresh flower bud is possibly the most moving herbal experience we’ve ever had” says one herbal lover. “Within a few seconds, the taste buds, gums, and entire mouth become overwhelmed by the intense tingling buzz, saliva swirling stimulating sensation. Whilst this is happening, the mouth is being cleaned and the gum tissues, lymphatic and immune systems stimulated and strengthened”
Caution should be taken with eating the fresh flowers, as there have been reports of difficulty breathing due to increased saliva and numbing of throat.