Friday, May 14, 2010
Jambu (Acmella oleracea) is a leafy green much used in the cooking of the state of Pará, located along the lower reaches of the Amazon river system, and which is native to that region. It's also known as agrião-do-pará which means "Pará watercress" and it is from this name that its English name "paracress" derives.
Another name in English for this Brazilian native plant is "toothache plant." This is due to an interesting medicinal property that jambu has, and refers not to the fact that the plant causes toothaches, but that it cures them. Jambu contains the compound spilanthol, which has the property of numbing toothaches and which is a component of a number of proprietary toothache creams and remedies.
Although native to Brazil, jambu is now grown in other parts of the world, notably Southeast Asia and also India, where buds of the plant are used in chewing tobacco because of the spilanthol effect.