When Trevena Cross owner Graham introduced unfamiliar herb, Acmella oleracea to us the other week by encouraging us to try eating a bit of its flower, we weren’t quite expecting it to have the impact that it did! With name ‘buzz buttons’ or ‘electric buttons’ commonly given to its flowers, we should have figured it wouldn’t be a subtle eat but nevertheless, shocked we were. One sampler described it as eating electricity crossed with coca cola!
The researched benefits of consuming the plant are just as powerful though, it seems!
Acmella oleracea (height 38cm/15inches, spread 60-70cm/24-30inches) is a small annual (in temperate regions) or perennial (in warmer climates) – so is best brought into a warm greenhouse or conservatory to deal with frost tenderness. An easy to grow and low maintenance plant with a spreading and trailing habit, it can be grown in the ground or makes a wonderful container plant. Its broad dark green leaves with bronze-purple veins and stems are complimented by its golden cone-shaped flowers, with contrasting red centres.
With medicinal – largely anaesthetic – properties, its most common and widespread use is in the treatment of toothache, throat and gum infections. Chewing on the fresh or dried flower is also bacteriostatic, so can help to fight tooth decay, as well as having a strong effect against E.coli and salmonella according to promising research.
The plant is further recommended as a cure for dysentery, rheumatism and malaria, as the flower heads contain up to 1.25% of spilanthol, an antiseptic alkaloid effective at very low concentrations against blood parasites. It also enhances the immune system.
In addition Acmella oleracea extract is reported to reduce muscle tension when applied topically, decreasing facial lines and wrinkles that are partially caused by tense or contracted facial muscles. Some people compare it to BOTOX®, without the toxic effects.
Culinary use can be found in its native Brazil where small amounts of fresh shredded leaves add a unique flavour to salads.
See…it really does seem to be a miracle plant!…Is there anything it doesn’t do?!!!