Scientists based at Newcastle University said that, based on research carried out using mice, their study scientifically proves the pain relieving properties for the first time of the plant Hyptis crenata, otherwise known as Brazilian Mint.
The scientists maintain that the plant Hyptis crenata has been used as a traditional remedy in Brazil to treat a range of ailments from headaches and stomach pain to fever and flu and when prepared as a ‘tea’ – the traditional way to administer the medicine – the mint was as effective as a synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin in relieving pain.
Their research is being presented today at the 2nd International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants in New Delhi, India, and will appear in the society’s journal Acta Horticulturae.
In order to mimic as closely as possible the traditional treatment, the Newcastle University team said that they 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 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 scientists explained how they used the acetic acid writhing test to measure the response to tonic pain in mice given 15mg/kg hyptis crenata extract orally, a dose similar to that prescribed by traditional healers.
They said that an injection of acetic acid irritates the abdomen and causes the mouse to contort and the numbers of contortions are counted.
According to the team, the outcome of the tonic pain test demonstrated that the extract reduced the contortions in the mice to the same extent as Indometacin.
Lead researcher Gabriela Rocha said more work needs to be done to identify the molecule and understand the antinociceptive involved:
"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."
The research team said it intends to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is as a pain reliever humans.