Originally published May 12 2012
Peruvian Amazon plant provides a miracle cure for dental pain
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) We've all done it - dreaded going to the dentist for days and weeks at a time, especially if we believe we have a cavity. We don't want the shots of Novocain; we don't want to endure the pain of the drill and the dentist's probing picks.
According to researchers at Cambridge University, dentist offices could soon be using a plant extract long known to, and utilized by, indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon region for toothaches, which could eliminate the need for injections in some cases.
Researchers have devised a medicinal gel from a common plant locally known as spilanthes extract (Acmella Oleracea), which may become an all-natural alternative to dental anesthetic currently in use. In addition, researchers say, the extract may eventually be incorporated into a wide range of other uses beyond the dentist's office, according to a published report.
"We could be looking at the end of some injections in the dentist's surgery. We've had really clear result from the tests so far, particularly for peridodontological procedures such as root scaling and planning, and there are many other potential applications. The native forest people described to me exactly how the medicine could and should work and they were absolutely right," said Cambridge University anthropologist, Francoise Barbira Freedman, in a statement.
Natural treatment for natural pain
The report noted that Freedman was the first Westerner to embed and live with the Keshwa Lamas indigenous tribe in Peru, where the Cambridge scholar and researcher was first introduced to the effects of the spilanthes extract. The plant is ornamentally grown the world over, but it is native to the vast Amazon.
The report said a member of the tribe first alleviated pain Freedman was experiencing in her wisdom teeth by having her bite into parts of the plant during a 1975 visit. The results made quite an impression.
"During the time I have spent with the Keshwa Lamas I've learnt all about the different plants and leaves they use for everyday illnesses and ailments," she said. "I first went to Peru as a young researcher hoping to learn more about what was a secretive community who were experts in shamanism. Along the way I've learnt a great deal about natural medicines and remedies; everything from toothache to childbirth."
Her exposure to the tribe and its herbal remedy resulted in Freedman founding a pharmaceutical company called Ampika, Ltd., which is tied to the commercial arm of Cambridge University. Some of the profits from the sale of the spilanthes extract gel will be shared with the Keshwa Lamas tribe, who Freedman still visits.
Babies need pain relief too
Parents of infants know about teething - that painful condition babies experience as they begin to get their first teeth. And while there are a lot of "remedies" out there for teething pain - chewing on a toothbrush, giving baby a clean, frozen washcloth soaked in chamomile tea, etc. - Freedman and researchers say the gel may eventually be used to alleviate both teething pain and a condition commonly known as colic - a gastrointestinal condition affecting about 20 percent of babies that can cause them to cry incessantly for hours on end.
"There are a range of mucous tissue applications it could benefit, and may even help bowel complaints such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)," says Freedman.
"Although the world's tropical rainforests are under assault by logging, agriculture, monocultures, cattle, and fossil fuel industries, scientists believe the forests contain an untapped medicine cabinet that could provides cures for many of the world's ailments," the report said. "Currently less than 5 percent of the world's tropical forest plants and less than 0.1 percent of its animals have been tested for medicinal properties."
So the potential for many more natural medicinal discoveries is vast, indeed.
Right now the medicinal gel is currently undergoing medical trials, Freedman says, but it should be ready to market by 2014-2015.
Can you wait that long before you see your dentist again?
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