For thousands of years it has been prescribed by traditional healers in
Brazil to treat a range of ailments from headaches and stomach pain to
fever and flu.
Now for the first time, researchers at Newcastle University have been
able to scientifically prove the pain relieving properties of Hyptis
crenata — otherwise known as Brazilian mint.
Testing this ancient South American herb on mice, the team led by
researcher Graciela Rocha was able to show that when prepared as a ‘tea’
— the traditional way to administer the medicine — the mint was as
effective as a synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin.
The research is being presented November 24 at the 2nd International
Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants in New Delhi, India, and
will appear in the society’s journal Acta Horticulturae.
Now the Newcastle University team plan to launch clinical trials to
find out how effective the mint is as a pain relief for people.
Graciela explains: "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
"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
What the study showed
In order to mimic as closely as possible the traditional treatment,
the Newcastle University team first carried out a survey in Brazil to
find out how the medicine is typically prepared and how much should be
The most common method was to produce a decoction, a process whereby
the dried leaves are boiled in water for 30 minutes and allowed to cool
before being drunk as a ‘tea’.
The team found that when the mint was given at a dose similar to that
prescribed by traditional healers, the medicine was as effective at
relieving pain as the Indometacin.
Graciela, who is herself Brazilian and remembers being given the tea
as a cure for every childhood illness, adds: "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?"
Source : Newcastle University