What is Menthol?

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Created By: James Garman | Posted: 06-16-21

If you’ve ever applied a topical solution or product that gives you an "icy" feeling, you’ve probably already experienced the soothing effects of Menthol. It’s distinct minty scent also makes it easy to identify. You can find it in cosmetics, hygiene products, cough medicine and throat lozenges, and even chewing gum!  

Menthol is a naturally occurring substance that comes from various species of mentha plants (Peppermint is especially popular). After distilling the essential oils from the plant, menthol is collected as it filters out in waxy crystals. This is used for flavoring or as an olfactory agent in products. 

Another common characteristic of menthol is its tendency to produce a cooling sensation (like after you have just brushed your teeth with minty toothpaste!). The refreshing--almost cold--feeling occurs because menthol attaches to thermoreceptors in the skin or mucous membranes causing a nerve stimulus much like what we feel when we touch cold water. We feel a coolness without an actual drop in temperature. 

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