A research team from Newcastle University has just published a study on the pain relieving qualities of the Brazilian mint – Hyptis crenata. Working on mice, the study suggests that when the plant is used to make a decoction it can produce qualities that match those of commercially available analgesics. The decoction is made by boiling dried leaves in water for 30 minutes. It is then allowed to cool before drinking it like a tea.
The team went to Brazil to carry out the survey to find out how the medicine is typically prepared and how much should be consumed. They 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 synthetic aspirin-style drug called Indometacin.
The lead researcher - Graciela Rocha, is herself Brazilian and she remembers being given the tea as a cure for every childhood illness. She had this to say on the matter:
"…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?"
"…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. 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 next step for the team is to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is as a pain relief for people.
Graciela is in fact herself Brazilian and remembers being given the tea as a cure for every childhood illness.
The Brazilian Mint, is also Brazil's official national mint.