Newcastle University LogoNewcastle University researchers have found that an ancient herbal remedy appears to be as effective at relieving pain as compared to an aspirin-style drug.

For thousands of years, Hyptis crenata seems to have been prescribed by traditional healers in Brazil to treat a variety of ailments from headaches and stomach pain to fever and flu. Hyptis crenata is more commonly known as Brazilian mint. Currently for the foremost time, researchers were believed to have been able to scientifically establish the pain relieving properties of this humble plant.

For the purpose of better understanding this criterion, researchers tested this ancient South American herb on mice. They found that when this herb is prepared as a ‘tea,’ the mint seemed to have been as effective as a synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin. Also, the herb was prepared as a tea because that appears to be the traditional way to direct the medicine.

“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,” says lead researcher, Graciela Rocha Graciela.

“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,” he continues.

In order to mimic as closely as possible the traditional treatment, the research team was noted to have first carried out a survey in Brazil to find out how the medicine is typically prepared and how much should be consumed. The most common method seems to be produced via decoction. Decoction is known to be a process whereby the dried leaves are boiled in water for 30 minutes and allowed to cool before being drunk as a ‘tea’.

The research findings revealed that when the mint was given at a dose similar to that prescribed by traditional healers, the medicine seems to have been as effective at relieving pain as the Indometacin. Presently, the researchers plan to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint may be as a pain relief for people.

The findings of the research ‘Antinociceptive Activities and Compounds of Hyptis crenata’ will be published in the society’s journal, Acta Horticultrae.