If you’ve ever applied a topical solution or product to help ease the pain of aching joints and muscles, you’ve probably already experienced the soothing effects of Menthol. It’s distinct cooling, 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.
Health benefits related to menthol include relief from discomfort associated with digestive issues, heightened brain function and alertness, cold and flu symptom relief, decrease in headache pain, and even a boost in energy! It is no wonder that menthol is so widely used and included in many products--It is a truly soothing organic compound.