An anaesthetic gel from the Amazon could replace injections in the dentist’s surgery. Made from a plant that indigenous tribes discovered centuries ago, the gel is about to enter late-stage trials.
It is hoped the gel could end reliance on synthetic anaesthetics and anti-inflammatories.
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Cambridge University anthropologist Francoise Freedman has helped develop it in conjunction with a Keshwa Lamas tribe that treated her wisdom tooth when she lived there in 1975.
Dr Freedman says the plant, which works by blocking nerve endings to provide a numbing effect lasting more than an hour, has proved successful in early stage clinical trials.
Freedman’s company Ampika Ltd – a product of the university’s commercial arm Cambridge Enterprise – could bring it to market as early as 2014.
While it’s not every day that a plant-based painkiller is uncovered, there is an increasing demand for natural remedies, so it could be worth looking into.