At Senses, we heard about research being carried out to formulate dry mouth remedies using a plant extract that naturally increases saliva production.
As we were working on developing Senses swabsticks to alleviate dry mouth conditions at the time, naturally we were intrigued and curious to learn more.
For those of you wondering why we’ve included spilanthes extract in our swabstick solution, here is the science behind it.
SPILANTHES: The plant with a history of healing
The botanical name for spilanthes is Spilanthes acmella. Spilanthes is derived from the Greek spilos for “spot” and anthos for “flower,” in reference to the distinctive round ‘spot’ marking the centre of its flower head. Common names for spilanthes include the electric button plant, electric daisy, toothache plant, peek-a-boo plant, eyeball plant, buzz button, and other local names such as Jambu in Brazil.
Spilanthes has been used for millennia by indigenous healers throughout the world. For example, In India it’s used in Ayurvedic medicine under its Sanskrit name Sarahattika, to support the immune system, improve digestion, treat headaches, relieve toothaches, heal infections of the throat and gums, and alleviate nausea.
From its origins in South America, spilanthes has since become widely distributed and cultivated for its rare and highly valued medicinal properties. More recently, scientific studies have confirmed spilanthes’ significant antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and antiprotozoal properties in addition to its powerful, beneficial sialogogue action (stimulating saliva production).
Spilanthes Organoleptic Properties
When the flower head is chewed, the tongue detects the following experiences (to varying degrees, depending upon the individual):
The essential oil distilled from spilanthes’ fresh flowers contains high amounts of the phytocannabinoid β-caryophyllene, the flavour of which resembles black pepper. Other major constituents of spilanthes’ essential oil include limonene (lemony flavour), thymol (a thyme-like flavour), cadinene (‘green-like’) and germacrene (spicy and woody flavour).
A Powerful Sialogogue
Spilanthes is one of the most powerful botanical sialogogues, a substance that induces saliva production. It contains a potent, highly bioactive compound called spilanthol that stimulates our body’s innate salivation response.
Spilanthol activates ion channels in the cell membranes of nerve fibre receptors on the tongue and within the oral cavity. Activation of these ion channels generates an exchange of charged ions between the inside and outside of the nerve cell, experienced in the mouth as a “vibratory chemesthetic sensation.” This electrical message is relayed along the nerve fibres and evokes a response from the trigeminal and facial nerves which subsequently signal the salivary glands to produce and release saliva.
Spilanthol triggers an ‘electrifreshening’ sensation in the mouth and stimulates our body’s innate salivation response.