Group Condemns Cruel + Unnecessary Pain Research At Newcastle University
For ‘Health Tea Drink’
BUAV, the UK’s leading organisation campaigning to end animal experiments,
has today criticised Newcastle University for allowing extremely cruel experiments
to be carried out on mice. This follows the University’s announcement
of research into the pain-killing benefits of Brazilian mint (Hyptis crenata),
claiming that a ‘tea’ made from the plant was as effective at
providing pain relief as the common pain-killing drug Indometacin 1.
in spite of robust evidence from patients in Brazil where it has long been
prescribed for pain relief, and the existence of many investigative methods
involving humans that could have been used to research its effects further,
the researchers inflicted extremely cruel and scientifically questionable
procedures on mice to ‘confirm’ the analgesic effects of the
mint. The tests used included the ‘Plantar test (Hargreaves method)’
in which the hind paws of mice are exposed to heat to induce pain, and also
the ‘Acetic acid writhing test’ in which acid is injected into
the abdomens of mice to induce pain so severe that the animals ‘contort’
2, 3. The frequency of these contortions is used as a measurement of the
degree of pain being experienced.
cruelty of these experiments is self-evident, but furthermore the scientific
validity and human relevance of such research is highly dubious. An expert
workshop on pain research in 2008 concluded that, ‘Using animals to
research pain has "limited value" and should be replaced by newer
technologies,’ based on a detailed report that asserted, ‘Animal
tests…are too simplistic’ 4. It cited the more humane and human-specific
research methods available, including neuroimaging and electrophysiological
investigations, many of which have been specifically to explore the effects
of proposed new analgesics
techniques are widely used and known to be powerful and effective 5, 6,
and are pivotal to cutting edge research taking place in pain research at
Aston University in the UK, for example 7-9.
Scientific Co-ordinator, Dr Katy Taylor states: “The BUAV is very
concerned that such cruel and outdated research continues to be approved
by university ethics committees and the Home Office, when alternative scientific
methods are clearly available.”
For further information, please contact BUAV +44 (0)207 700 4888
 BBC News. Cup of mint tea 'can kill pain'. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/health/8373791.stm
 Rocha, G. S. (2009). Hyptis crenata Pohl (Brazilian mint) for pain relief.
Available at: http://alfaobserv.org/porto2009/APRESENTACOES_Comunicacoes_PORTO2009/Sala4/Sessao1/CM3.ppt
 Rocha, G. (2009). Brazilian mint for pain relief. Available at: http://www.vitae.ac.uk/policy-practice/92593/Graciela-Rocha-University-of-Newcastle.html
 Langley, C. K., Aziz, Q., Bountra, C., Gordon, N., Hawkins, P., Jones,
A., Langley, G., Nurmikko, T., and Tracey, I. 2008. Volunteer studies in
pain research--opportunities and challenges to replace animal experiments:
the report and recommendations of a Focus on Alternatives workshop. Neuroimage.
42, 2, 467-473.
 Raichle, M. E. 2003. Functional brain imaging and human brain function.
J Neurosci. 23, 10, 3959-3962.
 Borsook, D. and Becerra, L. R. 2006. Breaking down the barriers: fMRI
applications in pain, analgesia and analgesics. Mol Pain. 2, 30.
 Watson, A., El-Deredy, W., Vogt, B. A., and Jones, A. K. 2007. Placebo
analgesia is not due to compliance or habituation: EEG and behavioural evidence.
Neuroreport. 18, 8, 771-775.
 Hobson, A. R., Furlong, P. L., Sarkar, S., Matthews, P. J., Willert,
R. P., Worthen, S. F., Unsworth, B. J., and Aziz, Q. 2006. Neurophysiologic
assessment of esophageal sensory processing in noncardiac chest pain. Gastroenterology.
130, 1, 80-88.
 Hobson, A. R., Furlong, P. L., Worthen, S. F., Hillebrand, A., Barnes,
G. R., Singh, K. D., and Aziz, Q. 2005. Real-time imaging of human cortical
activity evoked by painful esophageal stimulation. Gastroenterology. 128,