Healthy living

Brazilian mint tea relieves pain

Ancient herbal remedy as good as aspirin, study finds

Brazilian mint tea can be as effective at relieving pain as an aspirin-style drug, scientists claim.

Hyptis crenata - otherwise known as Brazilian mint - has been used by healers in Brazil for thousands of years to treat a variety of common ailments ranging from headaches and stomach pain to fever and flu.

Now scientists from Newcastle University say they have scientific proof the ancient herbal remedy can be an effective pain reliever.

In the study, scientists prepared the mint tea in the same way as is done in Brazil, by boiling the leaves for 30 minutes and allowing the tea to cool.

When the mint tea was given to mice in laboratory tests, the medicine was as effective at relieving pain as a synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin.

The results are to be published in the journal Acta Horticulturae.

Graciela Rocha, who led the study, said: “Since humans first walked the earth we have looked to plants to provide a cure for our ailments – in fact it is estimated more than 50,000 plants are used worldwide for medicinal purposes.

“Besides traditional use, more than half of all prescription drugs are based on a molecule that occurs naturally in a plant.

“What we have done is to take a plant that is widely used to safely treat pain and scientifically proven that it works as well as some synthetic drugs. Now the next step is to find out how and why the plant works.”

As a Brazilian, she also has some first hand experience of the pain-relieving tea. She remembers being given it for every childhood ailment.

“The taste isn’t what most people here in the UK would recognize as a mint.

“In fact it tastes more like sage which is another member of the mint family. Not that nice, really, but then medicine isn’t supposed to be nice, is it?”

Now the team from Newcastle University are planning to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is at pain relief for people.

This article was published on Wed 25 November 2009



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