Take a Hint from the Brazilian Mint

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

-Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair”

And mint.


An ace natural pain-killer for headaches,stomach pain,fever and flu, the Brazilian mint (Hyptis crenata) is sold as tea-bags and food-flavorings world-over.

Like many of its sibling herbs, the tale of the Brazilian mint was told only in folk-lore and passed down informally till now.

A recent scientific study of the herb by researchers at Newcastle University aimed the discover the scientific basis of the pain-relief properties of the plant.

The guinea-pigs of course, are the mice because most research is done on these tiny rodents that resemble the human organ system rather well. The team led by researcher Graciela Rocha showed that when prepared as tea, the mint was as effective as a tablet of the synthetic aspirin-style drug, Indometacin.

In a Science News article, Rocha said that humans used more than 50,000 plants for medicinal purposes.

She also pointed out that besides traditional use, more than half of all prescription drugs are based on a naturally occurring plant molecule.

The team plans on studying how and why the plant works next and eventually launching clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is as a pain-killer for humans.

Interestingly, the Newcastle University team first found out how the medicine is typically prepared in Brazil and how much should be consumed. As per the Science News article, the most common Brazilian method was to produce a decoction by drying the mint leaves and boiling them in water for 30 minutes and then allowing them to cool before drinking.

The results showed that when the mint was given at doses like those prescribed, the medicine was as effective at relieving pain as the Indometacin drug.

The really astonishing thing that such a study throws up though is perhaps that nature has its toxins and its anti-dotes to a variety of ailments on the planet. It does make one wonder whether using  artificial drugs is a sign of progression or regression.

It also throws up the fact that traditional wisdom has known facts for centuries that the world of science is just catching up with. In many cases, the evidence is still missing, yet the benefits are clear.To add to Michael Pollan  words “don’t buy anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize”,  people may benefit much from also buying things their great- grandmothers endorsed. Although, caution is always a good idea in these matters. It may be interesting to study if science has endorsed as many been useful products that folklore throws up as proving that they are harmful. In the end, balance is the one word that sums everything up when it comes to following the healthiest medical drugs.

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