Mint has been used for centuries to soothe stomachs – but the latest research on one kind of mint finds that it may also help beat pain.
A Brazilian mint plant, hyptis crenata, has been used for centuries by local healers for its painkilling properties... and a study on mice finds that this stuff may not only work – but be as effective as an aspirin-style painkiller.
So instead of wondering what side effects you'll face from a med... you may soon be able to sip some tea to rid yourself of pain.
Researchers divided mice into two groups. One set of mice got water, another set got this tea brewed the traditional way: dried leaves are boiled for 30 minutes, then the resulting brew is cooled.
As the mice sipped away, researchers hit their legs with painful infrared beams. The tea-drinking mice had slower response times – indicating that their beverage helped keep pain at bay.
A clinical trial on humans is planned next, which should really help us figure out just how effective this stuff is. But the locals who swear by it don't need proof – to them, this is all they need to fight many common pains.
I'll keep you posted on this one... but the early word is encouraging and shows once again that nature often provides real medicine – if we're willing to look for it.
One other thing about this plant: It's a mint it name only. It tastes more like sage, which means that as far as teas go, it might not taste very good. It's also not widely available here in the United States.
I imagine that'll change if more studies confirm its effectiveness.
In the meantime, there are other natural solutions for pain relief that you can turn to before you reach for a drug. Daily use of fish oil has been shown to minimize and even eliminate chronic pains caused by inflammation, including arthritis and joint pain.
You may also want to consider white willow bark – quite literally the original aspirin. Bayer's drug is a synthetic version of the active compound in white willow bark, salicin. White willow bark is far safer – although people with aspirin sensitivity shouldn't take it.
Finally, if you like curry then you're already enjoying a natural painkiller: curcumin, which can be found in the spice turmeric. Curcumin has a number of fantastic medicinal properties, including natural anti-inflammatory powers. It may even inhibit tumors.
As always, talk to your doctor – ideally an M.D. experienced in natural and holistic cures – to find out which remedies might work best for you.
Just keep off the meds – you never know when you might be taking the next Vioxx.