(Acmella oleracea L.)
Electric daisy, also known as toothache plant, is a remarkable though little-known plant that belongs to the family Asteraceae. Its origins are not fully known, although it is assumed that it comes from tropical regions of Africa and South America. It was first found in Peru.
In the natural state, it is a perennial plant.
Toothache plant is a perennial plant with a conical, yellow, odourless flowers, with a characteristic spot at the top, reminiscent of a ‘fish eye’. It reaches up to 60cm in height. Its long stalks are brown, and its dark green leaves are heart-shaped.
Electric daisy has many uses in cooking and medicine.
The leaves of electric daisy are edible, that is why in South America, it is used in cooking as a salad ingredient, because of its characteristic, slightly spicy, peppery taste. Once cooked, it loses its taste and becomes more like spinach leaves.
In herbal medicine, it is used in whole, although the highest content of its main active ingredient (spilanthol) is found in flowers and leaves. Spilanthol is primarily responsible for the analgesic effect. It is very well absorbed by the skin, causing loss of sensation after only 5 minutes. Furthermore, electric daisy contains tannic compounds, essential oil, flavonoids, phenolic acids and polysaccharides.
In folk medicine, it was used primarily as a local anesthetic. It was used particularly to treat dental pain of various origin – hence it is also known as ‘toothache plant’, as well as sore throat or stomatitis. Electric daisy also shows antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, further reinforced by the content of flavonoid compounds.
Electric daisy as ‘plant botox’.
Extract of electric daisy is appreciated also in the cosmetic industry. It demonstrates, first of all, anti-wrinkle and firming properties. It stimulates skin cells to produce collagen and elastin, which form a network to support firmness of the skin.
It also has the ability to reduce muscle tension, thereby contributing to the reduction of facial wrinkles. For this reason, electric daisy is used as a product with firming and anti-wrinkle properties which improves skin appearance. Thanks to these properties, it started to be referred to as ‘plant botox’.
What are other applications of electric daisy?
In Africa and South Asia (India), it has long been used in folk medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions. First of all, it is used as a soothing topical anaesthetic, for example for toothache. Additionally, it increases the secretion of saliva due to its spicy taste, and this contributes to stimulating the appetite and promotes the digestive processes.