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Acmella oleracea


Spilanthes oleracea, Bidens acmelloides, Pyrethrum spilanthus, Bidens fervida, Biden fusca, Bidens oleracea, Spilanthes acmella [1].

Vernacular Names:


Subang Nenek , Pokok Getang Kerbau, Kerabu, Galang, Gutang




Phaak Krat, Phak Phet


Hagonog (Tag.); Agonoy (Sp.-Fil.), Palunay (Pam.)


Cuc Ao, Ngo Ao


Jin Chou Kou






Akalkar (Sans); Ukra, Pokarmul, Pakarmul (Hind); Roshunla (Ben.); Akra (Bom.); Ukra (Tam.); Acharbondi, Pipulka (Kon. & Mah.); Maratimogga, Maratitige (Tel.)


Toothache plant, Paracress, Paraguay cress, Toothache plant


Brede Mafane, Cresson de Para, Spilanthes des Potagers, Herbe de Malacca, Cresson des Indes


Agriao di Para, Jambu


Braziliaanse Cresson, Huzarenknoop, Paratuinkers


Husarenknophblume, Parakresse




Kress Brazilski, Spilantes


Boton de oro, Jambu


Parakrasse [2] [3] [4] [5] [7]

General Information


Acmella oleracea is a member of the Asteraceae family. It is an annual herb that grows in the wild reaching a height of 15-30cm. It is often found in open places, old clearings, at low and medium altitudes. The stem are glabrous, fleshy, and green to purplish. The leaves are simple, opposite, cordate, oval to lanceolate, with serrated edges and have three prominent nerves. The petiole measures 2-7mm long. The flowers are yellow in an umbel with 3 or more flowerets on long peduncles. It has common calyx, 9-11 narrow sepals, concave, fleshy and in two rows. The corolla is tubular and 5-toothed. The anthers are longer than the corolla. The pistil is longer than the stamens. The style is bifid. The pistillate flowers are 15 or more forming the rays. The seeds are quadrangular, crowned by one long awn. [5] [6]

Plant Part Used

Flower heads, roots, leaves. [2]

Chemical Constituents

Spilanthol; hendeca-2E,7Z,9E-trienoic acid; hendeca-2E-en-8,10-diynoic acid; polygodial; eudesmanolide II; limonene; β –caryophyllene; Z- β –ocimene; γ-cadinen; thymol; germacrene D; myrcene; vanillic acid; trans-ferulic acid; trans-isoferulic acid; 3-acetylaleuritolic acid; scopoletin; b-sitostenone; stigmasterol; stigmasteryl-3-O-b-D-glucopyranosides; stigmasteryl-and b-sitosteryl-3-O-b-D-glucopyranosides; acmellonate. [7] [10]

Traditional Used:

The name, toothache plant, describes the universal use of the plant as a remedy for toothache and gum infection. The local anaestetic effect provide near instant relieve to toothache and the antibiotic property of the plant further provide complete relieve to the ailment. Most would use the flower head either fresh or dired and powdered, while others recommend the use of the roots and leaves. [2] [4] [5]

Gastrointestinal Diseases

In Indo-china the plant is used to treat dysentery while the Filipinos make use of the roots to treat constipation. The flower head is chewed by the Indonesians to promote salivation. [5]

Inflammatory Disease

A. oleracea also recommended in the treatment of various inflammatory conditions. Included are diseases like rheumatism, gout, lymphadenitis, cystitis, and skin infections. It is also used to treat fungal infections like candidiasis. The plant has been used to treat blood parasitoses like malaria and elephantiasis both as prophylactics and curative. It is believed to enhance the immune system by encouraging the white blood cells to phagocytose bacteria and viruses. [2] [3] [5] [6]

Other uses

The plant stimulates healing of wounds and is applied over atonic ulcers, promotes urination and is used in the preparation of aromatic baths for convalescents, rheumatics and pregnant women. [2] [5] [6] It has been reported that some native use the plant to treat children with stammers. [8]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antioxidant activity

Raner et al. [11] studied the inhibitory effects of three plants for their on human cytochrome P450(2E1) activity. They found that the alkylamides present in A. oleracea had significant inhibitory effects on cytochrome P450(2E1) mediated oxidation of p-nitrophenol in vitro. Further studies indicated that ethyl acetate and chloroform extracts of the plants also showed significant antioxidant activity (DPPH and SOD Assay). [12] [13]

Vasodilatation activity

The ethyl-acetate extract of A. oleracea was found to produce immediate vasorelaxation of rat thoracic aorta in a dose dependent manner but not as effectvie as acetylcholine. This effect was mediated via endothelium induced nitric oxide and prostacyclin. [12]

Antibacterial activity

Prachayasittikul S et al. [13] studied the bioactivity of metabolites of A. oleracea and found that the chloroform and methonal extracts could inhibit the growth of most of the 27 strains of microorganisms tested including Corynbacterium diphtheriae (MIC 64-256mg/ml) and Bacillus subtilis ATCC 6633 (MIC 128-256mg/ml).

Anti-inflammatory activity

Spilanthol isolated from A. oleracea was found to be the bioactive principle in the anti-inflammatory activity of the plant. Wu LC et al. [14] demonstrated that this activity is due to its attenuation of the LPS-induced inflammatory responses via the inactivation of NF-kappaB.

Pancreatic Lipase Inhibitory activity

Ekanem et al. [15] studied the activity of A. oleracea extract on the activity of pancreatic lipase. They found that the ethnol extract of flower buds of A. oleracea had lipase inhibitory activity. They suggested that this has the potential of being developed into an anti-obesity drug.

Diuretic activity

The diuretic activity of aqueous extract of A. oleracea was studied by Ratnasooriya et al. [16] They found that the most effective dose for the diuretic activity was 1500mg/kg where the action was almost immediate (within 1 hour) and lasted throughout the study period (5 hours). The peak effect was 1-2 hours with marked increase in urinary Na+ and K+ and a reduction is the osmolarity of urine suggesting the site of action to be at the loop of Henle. There was indication that it may also inhibit ADH release and/or action.


High doses of hexane extracts of A. oleracea in doses of between 100-150mg/kg had been found to produce full tonic-clonic convulsion accompanied with typical electrographic seizure in EEG in Wistar rats. [9]

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation


  1. Peter Hanelt Manfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Volume 2 Springer-Verlag Berlin 2001 pg.2120
  2. G. J. H. Grubben, Vegetables, Volume 2 of Plant resources of tropical Africa, PROTA, Netherlands, 2004.  pg35
  3. Mars, Brigitte, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine (Volume 3 of 3) (EasyRead Super Large 18pt Edition),, 2008. Pg177-179
  4. Batugal, P.A., Kanniah, J., Sy, L., Oliver, J.T. (eds.), Medicinal Plants Research in Asia - Volume I: The Framework and Project  Workplans, Bioversity International, Selangor, 2004. Pg121
  5. Christophe Wiart,  Ethnopharmacology of medicinal plants: Asia and the Pacific,  Humana Press, New Jersey, 2006. pg206-207
  6. Thomas Jeffery Parker, An Elementary Course of Practical Zoology, General Books LLC, London, 2009. pg410-411
  7. Spice Pages. [Accessed on 21/08/2010]
  8. K. M. Nadkarni, A. K. Nadkarni,  Dr. K.M. Nadkarni's Indian Materia Medica., Volume 2, Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, 1994. pg1164
  9. Moreira VM, Maia JG, de Souza JM, Bortolotto ZA, Cavalheiro EA. Characterization of convulsions induced by a hexanic extract of Spilanthes acmella var. oleracea in rats. Braz J Med Biol Res. 1989;22(1):65-7.
  10. Prachayasittikul S, Suphapong S, Worachartcheewan A, Lawung R, Ruchirawat S, Prachayasittikul V. Bioactive metabolites from Spilanthes acmella Murr. Molecules. 2009 Feb 19;14(2):850-67.
  11. Raner GM, Cornelious S, Moulick K, Wang Y, Mortenson A, Cech NB. Effects of herbal products and their constituents on human cytochrome P450(2E1) activity. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Dec;45(12):2359-65.
  12. Wongsawatkul O, Prachayasittikul S, Isarankura-Na-Ayudhya C, Satayavivad J, Ruchirawat S, Prachayasittikul V. Vasorelaxant and antioxidant activities of Spilanthes acmella Murr. Int J Mol Sci. 2008 Dec;9(12):2724-44.
  13. Prachayasittikul S, Suphapong S, Worachartcheewan A, Lawung R, Ruchirawat S, Prachayasittikul V. Bioactive metabolites from Spilanthes acmella Murr. Molecules. 2009 Feb 19;14(2):850-67.
  14. Wu LC, Fan NC, Lin MH, Chu IR, Huang SJ, Hu CY, Han SY. Anti-inflammatory effect of spilanthol from Spilanthes acmella on murine macrophage by down-regulating LPS-induced inflammatory mediators. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Apr 9;56(7):2341-9.
  15. Ekanem AP, Wang M, Simon JE, Moreno DA. Antiobesity properties of two African plants (Afromomum meleguetta and Spilanthes acmella) by pancreatic lipase inhibition. Phytother Res. 2007 Dec;21(12):1253-5.
  16. Ratnasooriya WD, Pieris KP, Samaratunga U, Jayakody JR. Diuretic activity of Spilanthes acmella flowers in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Apr;91(2-3):317-20.

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