Plants used in traditional cultures can have the leading edge on Western techniques to prevent tooth decay and relieve pain. While the West neurotically believes oral hygiene is only possible when bacteria and viruses of any variety are entirely wiped out, other cultures use natural substances to keep bad microbes in balance with good ones.
Recent experiments have confirmed the antimicrobial strength of plants used in folklore, such as Abies canadensis, Chelidonium majus, Ginkgo biloba, Rosmarinus officinalis, Sassafras albidum and Tanecetum vulgare all proven remedies to fight decay causing microbes such as the streptococcus species of bacteria.The parathyroid gland also has a vital role in dental health: the homoeopathic Parathyroidinum 5CH, administered sub cutaneously or via suppositories, has been proven effective in treating hyperparathyroidism, a condition involving an increase of calcium and alkaline phosphate liberating enzymes which can create cavities in the teeth and jawbone (Arch Homeopathiques de Normandie, 1962; 25: 30-53 and Cahier de Biotherapie, 1971; 29: 1-17).
Methylxanthines, tannin and caffeine (found in chocolate, red wine, tea, cola and coffee) lower your pain threshold. Sixty drops of Passiflora incarnata in warm water blunts the pain of hypersensitive teeth (Kailash Narayan Mathur, Principles of Prescribing Collected from Clinical Experiences of Pioneers of Homoeopathy, New Delhi: B Jain Publishers, 1981: 29 and 625).
European herbalists have long confirmed the use of Zanthoxylum bark (Fagara magaliesmontana) or berries called "tooth ache bark" in Africa to relieve toothache (Bull Dept Agric Southern Rhodesia, 1950: 144; Scientific Committee, British Herbal Medicine Association, British Herbal Pharmacopoeia, 1979; I: 229, and Terry Williard, Modern Herbology, Calgary: CW Progressive Publishing, 1988: 147-8).
Laboratory and clinical research supports the use of an Oriental powder remedy composed of Angelica dahurica (bai zhi) and Blumea balsamifera (bing pian) in controlling toothache (Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993: 34-35). This may be combined with needling at acupuncture points like Hegu and Neiting. Moxa cones burned at various points are also successful (Shanghai College of Traditional Medicine, Acupuncture: A Comprehensive Text, Seattle, Eastland Press, 1984: 145, 156, 275 & 692).
The homoeopathic preparation, Calotropis lactum 3DH treats toothache and Hydrocotyle asiatica 3DH calms neuralgic pain around the jaw (William Boericke, Homoeopathic Materia Medica: Fifty Homoeopathic Indian Drugs, New Delhi: B Jain Publishers, 1990: 1056 & 1063). Pain in the temporo mandibular joints can be relieved by drinking five drops of Verbascum thapsus in a little water (William Boericke, Homoeopathic Materia Medica New Delhi: B Jain, 1990: 671).
Post operative wounds of parts well supplied with nerves like teeth that have recently had dental treatment benefit from Hypericum perforatum 1DH, and a Hypericum mouthwash (10 drops of Hypericum to 250 ml boiled cooled water every four hours) will ease toothache (John Henry Clarke, A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, Health Science Press, 1977; vol 1: 947-51). For quick relief rub Plantago major onto the affected tooth (Andrew Lockie, The Family Guide to Homoeopathy, Elm Tree Books, 1989: 169 and John Henry Clarke, A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, Health Science Press, 1977; vol III: 838-841), as will a dab of cotton wool soaked in clove oil, Eugenol or Eugenia aromatica (Eugenia caryophyllata) in the cavity of the sore tooth (William Martindale, The Extra Pharmacopoeia, The Pharmaceutical Press; 1958; I: 623 and P Ellingwood, quoted on Gaia Multimedia, 1994).
Another botanical medicine with a neuro sedative effect is Petasites hybridus (H Wagner et al, Deutsche Apotheker-Zeitung, 1976; 116: 1009-1912 and Rudolf Fritz Weiss, Herbal Medicine, Gothenburg: Ab Arcanum; 1988: 90-92 and 212).
Harald Gaier is a registered naturopath, homoeopath and osteopath.
Next month: gum disease