As a natural anesthetic plant, nowadays Jotang (Spilanthes acmella var. paniculata) is currently common as a weed in gardens or rice fields. Grows shrubs in humid and wet areas. On the edge of ditches, gardens, and rice fields. Its species has a wide distribution range. We can found them from the lowlands to the highlands.

Spilanthes acmella var. paniculata can still grow optimal at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level. Especially in the forests. Optimal growth of Jotang, besides wet/humid, generally requires a high intensity of sunlight. So it is not surprising, we can find Jotang often on the edge of an open path on the edge of a river.

Some local names for Jotang as natural anesthetic plant

There are some local names in Indonesia for Spilanthes acmella var. paniculata.  The most common name is Jotang.  Jotang is a local name from West Java.  West Sumatra peoples called it Gatang, while in Riau province, the name is Daun Lada.  There are some Javanese names for this species; Gletang, Legetan, Sruren, and Seruni Sapi.  In Madura island, they called it Rat Carat and in Ternate, people named it Baga.

Natural Anesthetic Plant

Edible uses

Young stems and shoots are popular as vegetables in West Java.  Peoples eat it raw or cooked.  Jotang is popular for lalab among Sundanese peoples.  But for Javanese people, they usually eat after cooking it.

The Unforgettable Sensation

When you eat the fresh leaves, you will feel a sensation that is hard to forget. It will taste sweet at first, and then quickly turn salty. then, the salty taste will turn pungent. The taste will last quite a long time in your mouth.  Especially on the tongue and lips. The pungent sensation then turns into a numbness that makes your mouth feel a bit strange.

As long as the taste sensation appears, a lot of salivae will come out in the mouth. Even if you spit it out. the saliva will still appear. It will take about 5-10 minutes for the sensation to slowly begin to disappear. Of course the time also really depends on the number of leaves that you eat.  But the pungency will decrease a lot when you cooked it first. 

The flower parts are also edible. The sensation will feel stronger when you eat the flowers. Simply, by eating a few flowers, automatically you will feel an extraordinary numb sensation in your mouth.  And the numb sensation will take longer to disappear compared to it when you eat the leaves.  It could be the reason why one of the English names is the Sichuan button.  Sechuan is correlating with the Sichuan pepper.

Natural Anesthetic Plant

Because of the numb sensation, Jotang is also popular as a natural anaesthetic plant. People use to reduce the pain when they have mouth sores problems. In some regions, peoples also use Jotang to treat toothache, throat, and gum infection.  They consume the leaves or flowers.  For a while, the numb sensation will reduce the pain and you can eat easier.

The plant is further recommended as a cure for dysentery and rheumatism, and to enhance the immune system. It is used against blood parasites, especially against malaria, both prophylactic and curative.

The leaves are sialagogue.  The leaves and flower heads are analgesics, anthelmintic, antibacterial and antifungal. Some of the medicinal compounds are destroyed by desiccation or freezing. In-vitro studies have shown strong antibacterial activity against Escherichia, Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Salmonella and Staphylococcus.

Important Notes

Based on information from,  Although Jotang has some medicinal benefits for oral health, it turns out that Jotang should not be consumed by pregnant women because it will increase the risk of birth defects.  Peoples with prostate cancer also have a high risk.  Other studies have shown in the study using animals.   Jotang has diuretic side effects.  Jotang also stimulates the production of male hormones at high doses.

Muryanto Paiman

always love to learn from nature.  Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses