Menthol solid at room temperature, and is white, crystalline and waxy in nature. It retains its solid state at room temperature and melts slightly above. It is originally found in the form of corn mint, peppermint, or other mint oils, and the organic compound made synthetically from it.
It imparts a minty flavor, fragrance and cooling effect to essential oils it’s seen in.
It is widely used to relieve minor throat irritation, as menthol has local anesthetic and counter-irritant qualities. This makes it very common in non-prescription products for short-term relief of minor sore throat and minor mouth or throat irritation.
It is also used to relieve minor aches and pains, such as sprains, muscle cramps, headaches and similar conditions. It is mixed with chemicals such as camphor, eucalyptus oil or capsaicin to form topical analgesics.
It is also used as an antipruritic to reduce itching. In perfumery, menthol is used to prepare menthyl esters to emphasize floral notes. It is used as a decongestant for chest and sinuses, used to treat sunburns and in aftershave products to relieve razor burns.
Menthol is used in certain cigarette brands as a smoking tobacco additive, which also increases the density of nicotine receptors, making it an addictive potential of tobacco products. It is used in soda to alleviate nausea, in particular motion sickness, by pouring a few drops on a lump of sugar.
A study on ‘Menthol: a simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties’ stated that menthol can only be found as a constituent of a limited number of aromatic plants, and hence not a prime compound of most essential oils.
This compound is known to show signs of high biological activity in vitro and in vivo, displaying antibacterial, antifungal, antipruritic, anticancer and analgesic effects, and are also an effective fumigant.
Menthol is used in food and in oral hygiene products such as mouth and tongue-spray, mouthwash, toothpaste and more generally as a flavoring agent in chewing gums and candies. It acts as an antispasmodic or a muscle relaxant in upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. It is also used in the cosmetic industry in products such as hair conditioners.
A 2013 study on ‘Chemical composition and biological properties of essential oils of Two mint species by Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science and Providence University, published in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research’ established the effects of menthol against inflammation and microbes.
This study showed that the two mint essential oils contain more alcohol and terpene and the major compound was menthol. The antimicrobial activity of peppermint against E. coli, S. aureus and P. aeruginosa was stronger than that of chocolate mint.
For the anti-oxidation test using DPPH radical and β-Carovtene-linoleic acid assay, peppermint showed better properties than chocolate mint. However, for the scavenging NO radical activity, chocolate mint was superior to peppermint. Chocolate mint also showed stronger anti-inflammatory activity than peppermint.
Based upon the Gas chromatography report and Material Safety Data Sheet, both the oils of Peppermint and Chocolate mint contains menthol as the primary chemical constituent, responsible for its promising remedial attributes.
- Chemical composition and biological properties of essential oils of Two mint species by Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science and Providence University, published in the Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
- Menthol by Wikipedia
- Menthol: a simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties by Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa, published in PubMed