A new study suggests that a herb called Hyptis crenata - otherwise known as Brazilian mint, can reduce pain as effectively as leading drugs.
It has been used as a traditional medicine in Brazil to treat a range of ailments from headaches and stomach pain to fever and flu.
Now researchers at Newcastle University say they have scientifically proven its pain-relieving properties for the first time.
Testing this ancient South American herb on mice, the team led by researcher Graciela Rocha was able to show that when prepared as a 'tea' - the traditional way to administer the medicine - the mint was as effective as a synthetic aspirin-style drug Indometacin.
Now, the researchers plan to launch clinical trials to find out how effective the mint is as a pain relief for people.
"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," Graciela said.
"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," Graciela added.
The research has been presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants in New Delhi, India, and will appear in the society's journal Acta Horticulturae.