It’s a real thing.
I’ve got some growing in my vegetable garden, right at one end of the pepper patch, not to confuse you–it’s not in the capsicum family.
It’s its own thing, a medicinal herb I selected because the seed catalog said it was useful for mouth sores, and as I have some extended family with a mouth ulcer problem I popped it onto the seed list this past spring because I wanted to try some medicinals this year. It is traditionally used for toothache relief and throat and stomach pain.
The catalog didn’t mention it has another distinct quality, as well.
Hoo boy. It was already mature, flowering, and expanding rapidly when I decided to do a little more research on it and learned it has some interesting nicknames:
Uh, Buzz Buttons? Electric Buttons? Szechuan Buttons? What was going on here? Apparently it has a numbing, tingling effect as well.
I went out to the garden and stared at it.
I was supposed to chew on one of these flower buds.
I was game. I tried it.
Nothing much at first. I was ready to pack it in, and then, wow. It was like I’d put an Alka-Seltzer tablet in my mouth. It was the sensation of foaming, without any actual foaming. Lots of salivating, though. It was unlike anything else.
The taste isn’t very distinctive, but it’s the sensation that rocks you. Sort of an icy/salty numb experience, plus the ‘foaming’ I mentioned. It lasts several minutes. If you were to use it for toothache pain you’d have to keep popping them every so often. I can’t speak to its effectiveness for other complaints. For me it’s more of a novelty. The leaves produce the same effect, perhaps a bit milder.
Reading more on the subject, I learned they’re used to jazz up salads (and how!), and as a curious additive to fanciful cocktails. Very easy to grow, bring some to your next party. There will be a lot of wow’s and whoa’s and raised eyebrows.