Ancient herbal mint remedy is effective, safe pain reliever, new study finds

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: mint, pain, health news

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(NaturalNews) Brazilian mint, known to botanists by its Latin name Hyptis crenata, has long been used by traditional healers in Brazil to treat pain and discomfort from a variety of ailments, including stomach aches, fevers, flu and headaches. In fact, researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom say that the mint has been handed down as a prescription for pain relief for thousands of years. And a new study just presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants held in New Delhi, India, concludes the ancient herbal therapy is, in fact, an effective, natural treatment for pain. The research is slated for publication in an upcoming issue of the journal Acta Horticulturae.

A team of Newcastle University scientists, led by Graciela Rocha, carried out a survey in Brazil to find out specifically how the herbal medicine is typically prepared and how much should be consumed as a treatment. They learned that traditional healers use the mint in a decoction, meaning the dried leaves are boiled in water for 30 minutes and then allowed to cool before being consumed as a tea.

Rocha, who is originally from Brazil, noted in a statement to the press that she remembers being given the tea as a treatment for various childhood illnesses. "The taste isn't what most people here in the UK would recognize as a mint," she stated. "In fact it tastes more like sage which is another member of the mint family."

When the researchers tested the herbal tea in laboratory experiments with mice, they found it was just as effective at relieving pain as the pain reliever drug known as as indomethacin in the US and indometacin in the UK. Marketed under many brand names including Indocin, Indocid and Indochron E-R, indomethacin is a highly potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used to reduce fever, pain, stiffness, and swelling. Unlike the natural herbal mint pain reliever, indomethacin is associated with a host of serious side effects including stomach upset, gastric irritation and the risk of heart attack.

Now the Newcastle University scientists are readying clinical trials to test the effectiveness of Brazilian mint as a pain reliever in people. "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," Rocha said in the press statement. "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."

Author's note: NaturalNews is opposed to the use of animals in medical experiments that expose them to harm. We present these findings in protest of the way in which they were acquired.

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About the author

Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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