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Ancient rainforest remedy could replace anaesthetics to cure toothache

London, Wed, 14 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 14 (ANI): An uncommon red and yellow plant from the Amazonian rainforest could help alleviate dental pain more effectively than existing drugs and treatments, researchers say.


The ancient herbal remedy is so potent that it might even replace uncomfortable anaesthetic injections for certain procedures and provide a natural remedy for teething babies, the Daily Mail reported.


Cambridge University anthropologist Dr Francoise Barbira Freedman came across the budded plant more than 30 years ago when residing with a mysterious Peruvian tribe known for practising shamanism.


During her tour, she suffered severe pain in her wisdom teeth. She was given the medication by the tribe's medicine men and the ache 'went away immediately'.


Years later, she was asked to give Cambridge a few examples of rainforest remedies, and added the Acmella oleracea plant to the list.


She describing the inclusion as an 'afterthought'.


"It was added to the bottom of the list, but somehow the list got reversed, and it was the first one tested back in the UK. It was immediately successful and we've never looked back," she said.


Using extracts from the plant, the researchers have come up with a gel that blocks the pain receptors found in nerve endings and could hit the market in just two years' time.


In early trials, it aided in relieving pain during removal of teeth that were impacted, or stuck below the gum line.


The gel was also believed to be more efficient than the standard anaesthetic used when patients with gum disease required pain relief for scaling and polishing.


The effects lasted for longer duration, and patients were more likely to attend follow-up appointments.


In informal tests conducted by a Peruvian dentist, the plant extract also helped treat mouth ulcers and ease pain caused by dentures, braces, gum disease and having teeth removed.


And above all, there are no known side-effects.


"This treatment for toothache means we could be looking at the end of some injections in the dentist's surgery," Dr Freedman said.


"We've had really clear results from tests so far, particularly for procedures such as scaling and polishing, and there are many other potential applications.


These range from relaxing the pain of teething in babies to easing irritable bowel syndrome.


"We think people prefer to use natural products and this is particularly the case for baby teething, for which, to my knowledge, there is no clinically tested natural alternative," Dr Freedman added. (ANI)


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