Medicinal use of Akarkara (Spilanthes acmella)

Akarkara is an annual plant that bears beautiful white or yellow flowers and grown as ornamental plant. In India, it is found throughout the country. This plant is a folk medicine for oral ailments. A common English name of this plant is toothache plant as the chewing of flowers and leaves has numbing effect which gives relief in toothaches. The leaves chewing is also useful in affections of throat and gums. Flower head tincture is used as a substitute for the tincture of pyrethrum to treat jaw-bones inflammation and tooth cavities. Various parts of Akarkara plant have medicinal properties due to presence of Spilanthol which has local anaesthetic and powerful insecticidal properties.

Akarkara medicinal uses
By Phyzome[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass – Asteridae
  • Order – Asterales
  • Family Asteraceae – Aster family
  • Genus Spilanthes Jacq. – spilanthes
  • Latin Name: Spilanthes acmella SYNONYM- Spilanthes calva DC, S. paniculata auct. non-DC.S. pseudoacmella auct. non (L.) Murr.
  • Sanskrit Name: Akarkarabh
  • Hindi Name: Akarkara
  • English Name: Paracress
  • Marathi: Akkal Kadha
  • Ayurvedic: Marahattikaa
      • Plant Description

    All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plant.

    The genus Spilanthes belongs to the family Asteraceae (formerly Compositae) and has more than 300 species which are generally distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is believed to be originate in South America and Africa and now distributed around the globe. The species belonging to genus Spilanthes are popularly called toothache plant. In traditional medicine different Spilanthes species are used for toothache and sore throat. Several Acmella species that are found in various tropical regions of world such as Africa, South America and Southeast Asia bear similar properties and have similar use.

    In India, the genus Spilanthes is represented by six species viz. Spilanthes calva DC., S. paniculata DC., S. radicans Jacq., S. ciliata Kunth, S. uliginosa Sw., and S. oleracea. Each species has characteristic flower heads and S. acmella is one of the most studied species.

    Medicinal use of Akarkara

    Akarkara is a folk medicine for treating oral diseases, rheumatic pain, fever and several other ailments. For medicinal purpose flower head and leaves are used. The flowers and leaves have pungent taste, accompanied with tingling and numbness.

    In Japan Akarkara is used as spice for appetizers. Leaves are considered tonic and given to treat rheumatism, joint pain, arthritis and gout. Due to local anaesthetic properties the plant is used in toothaches. The plant parts have property to increase salivation and used as stimulation for curing headaches. The dried flower head is useful in mouth soreness. Due to diuretic action, the decoction of plant is useful in urinary stones. Akarkara is a folk medicine for stammering in children. In dysentery, whole plant is boiled in water and given to treat dysentery. The paste of plant is used as lotion in psoriasis and scabies.

    Here is given how to use Akarkara as home remedy for various ailments. Akarkara powder refers to dried powder of whole plant.

    Tooth ache, mouth problem

    Chew Akarkara flower to get relief in tooth ache. Akarkara plant can be used to prepare tooth powder. For preparing it first dry whole plant in shade and grind to make powder. Now mix alum and clove powder. This is akarkara tooth powder.

    1. Headache, Migraine

    Make paste of Akarkara plant and apply on forehead or extract juice and put few drops in each nostril to get relief from migraine.

    2. Epilepsy

    Mix Akarkara powder and vach powder and take 1 tbsp twice a day.

    3. Throat infection

    Boil Akarkara flower, jamun leaves and mango leaves in water. Gargle with this solution.

    4. Bad breath

    Boil Akarkara flower and leaves in water and prepare decoction. Drink this decoction and gargle using this solution to get relief from bad breath.

    5. Hiccups

    Chew Akarkara flower and then gargle, this helps in hiccups. Lick one gram Akarkara powder with honey.

    6. Fever

    The root power is cooked in olive oil and massaged externally to cause sweating and thus helps in high temperature.

    7. Stammering

    For stammering (Tutlana in Hindi) in kids, prepare powder of Akkalkada roots. This powder is taken in amount of one gram and mixed with honey and black pepper. This mix is rubbed on tongue. This causes salivation and cures dryness of tongue. This should be used for 1-2 months.

    8. Paralysis

    Traditionally the fine root powder of plant is mixed in Mahua tail and massaged externally. Internally, 500 mg of root powder is licked with honey.

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