Researchers at Newcastle University have recently discovered that Brazilian mint tea, brewed from the plant hyptis crenata, reduces response times to painful stimuli in mice. The researchers compared the tea to the drug Indometacin, which is similar to aspirin, suggesting that the tea could be as effective as commercial analgesics. The tea has been used traditionally by Latin American healers to relieve headaches, flu and fevers.
A survey of 975 people in the UK reported that 21% experienced pain every day or on most days; non-opiod analgesics are the first line of treatment on the World Health Organisation’s analgesic ladder. However, all of these drugs have side-effects; aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may cause digestive disorders and paracetamol can place a strain on the liver. If researchers are able to isolate the compounds that provide the tea’s analgesic properties, they may have a valuable addition to the commercial analgesic pharmacy.