Menthol is al alcohol found in peppermint and spearmint.
Links to Plants Containing Menthol
The listings of research below represent a compilation of scientific articles found on the topic, with a very brief overview description of each article/study. This compilation of research articles does not necessarily imply that there are adequate results to demonstrate safe and/or effective human use of any herb listed.
ANTIMICROBIAL / ANTIFUNGAL / ANTIBACTERIAL
- This article summarized antimicrobial research on essential oils with strong research on topical and antiseptic uses, as penetration enhancers, and in fighting medicine resistant species. From: Solórzano-Santos, F., & Miranda-Novales, M. G. (2012). Essential oils from aromatic herbs as antimicrobial agents. Current opinion in biotechnology, 23(2), 136-141.
- Citrus aurantium (bergamot), C. limon (lemon), Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile), Mentha piperita (peppermint), M. spicata (spearmint), Ocimum basilicum (basil), Origanum vulgare(oregano), Thymus vulgaris (thyme), and Salvia officinalis (sage) along with their constituents were tested against human pathogenic bacteria. The highest and broadest activity was shown by O. vulgare oil and carvacrol had the highest antibacterial activity among the tested constituents. Other significant constituents included: camphor, 1,8-cineole, linalool, linalyl acetate, limonene, menthol, a-pinene, b-pinene, and thymol. From: Soković, M., Glamočlija, J., Marin, P. D., Brkić, D., & van Griensven, L. J. (2010). Antibacterial effects of the essential oils of commonly consumed medicinal herbs using an in vitro model. Molecules, 15(11), 7532-7546. L
- Peppermint oil strongly inhibited plant pathogenic microorganisms, and human pathogens were moderately inhibited, with menthol being the active constituent. From: Iscan, G., KIrimer, N. E. S. E., Kürkcüoglu, M., Baser, H. C., & DEMIrci, F. (2002). Antimicrobial screening of Mentha piperita essential oils. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 50(14), 3943-3946.
- Camphor, menthol, thymol and oil of Eucalyptus citriodora were the most efﬁcacious components against the test toe fungus organisms. From: Ramsewak, R. S., Nair, M. G., Stommel, M., & Selanders, L. (2003). In vitro antagonistic activity of monoterpenes and their mixtures against toe nail fungus pathogens. Phytotherapy Research, 17(4), 376-379
- Cineole, citral, geraniol, linalool and menthol were tested against a variety of bacteria and fungi, showing a range of antimicrobial activity. From: Pattnaik, S., Subramanyam, V. R., Bapaji, M., & Kole, C. R. (1996). Antibacterial and antifungal activity of aromatic constituents of essential oils. Microbios, 89(358), 39-46.
- Aromatic vapours of menthol and camphor had an antitussive effect. From: Laude, E. A., Morice, A. H., & Grattan, T. J. (1994). The antitussive effects of menthol, camphor and cineole in conscious guinea-pigs. Pulmonary pharmacology, 7(3), 179-184.
- Inhalation of eucalyptus, camphor, and menthol improved airway and breathing of those affected by the common cold. From: Cohen, B. M., & Dressier, W. E. (1982). Acute aromatics inhalation modifies the airways. Effects of the common cold. Respiration, 43(4), 285-293.
- Camphor, eucalyptus and menthol stimulate cold receptors in the nose to improve airflow. From: Burrow, A., Eccles, R., & Jones, A. S. (1983). The effects of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol vapour on nasal resistance to airflow and nasal sensation. Acta oto-laryngologica, 96(1-2), 157-161.
- In participants with the common cold who inhaled a mixture of aromatic vapors of eucalyptus, menthol, camphor, breathing was improved. From: Cohen, B. M., & Dressier, W. E. (1982). Acute aromatics inhalation modifies the airways. Effects of the common cold. Respiration, 43(4), 285-293.
- Menthol inhalation affects the cool receptors and a person’s perception of improved breathing. From: Lindemann, J., Tsakiropoulou, E., Scheithauer, M. O., Konstantinidis, I., & Wiesmiller, K. M. (2008). Impact of menthol inhalation on nasal mucosal temperature and nasal patency. American journal of rhinology, 22(4), 402-405.
- Stimulation by menthol of the major palatine nerve and its sensory nerve endings in the nasal mucosa increased nasal opening. From: Naito, K., Komori, M., Kondo, Y., Takeuchi, M., & Iwata, S. (1997). The effect of L-menthol stimulation of the major palatine nerve on subjective and objective nasal patency. Auris Nasus Larynx, 24(2), 159-162. Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0385-8146(96)00005-3
- Cold receptor stimulation of the upper airway during nasal inhalation of menthol reduced the sensation of respiratory discomfort associated with difficult breathing. From: Nishino, T., Tagaito, Y., & Sakurai, Y. (1997). Nasal inhalation of l-menthol reduces respiratory discomfort associated with loaded breathing. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine, 156(1), 309-313.
ANTI-NOCICEPTIVE / ANALGESIC
- In a review of research, menthol was shown to impart a topical cooling effect, desensitizing nociceptors, to offer analgesic activity. From: Pergolizzi Jr, J. V., Taylor Jr, R., LeQuang, J. A., Raffa, R. B., & NEMA Research Group. (2018). The role and mechanism of action of menthol in topical analgesic products. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, 43(3), 313-319.
- In 22 patients with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, application of 1% menthol twice a day for 6 weeks. Side effects were minimal and most of the patients experienced improved function and reduced pain. From: Storey, D. J., Colvin, L. A., Scott, A. C., Boyle, D., Green, L., Jones, A. P., & Fallon, M. T. (2010). Treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) with topical menthol: A phase I study. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 28(15_suppl), 9129-9129.
- Menthol applied over a 1-week period showed analgesic activity in 10 participants. From: Mahn, F., Hüllemann, P., Wasner, G., Baron, R., & Binder, A. (2014). Topical high‐concentration menthol: reproducibility of a human surrogate pain model. European Journal of Pain, 18(9), 1248-1258.
- In 16 subjects, a 3.5% topical menthol was more effective than ice in reducing exercise related muscle soreness and the menthol treatement also showed improved muscle force. From: Johar, P., Grover, V., Topp, R., & Behm, D. G. (2012). A comparison of topical menthol to ice on pain, evoked tetanic and voluntary force during delayed onset muscle soreness. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(3), 314.
- There were antinociceptive and local anaesthetic effects of thymol and menthol in rats. From: Haeseler, G., Maue, D., Grosskreutz, J., Bufler, J., Nentwig, B., Piepenbrock, S., … & Leuwer, M. (2002). Voltage-dependent block of neuronal and skeletal muscle sodium channels by thymol and menthol. European journal of anaesthesiology, 19(08), 571-579.
- Menthol improved the analgesic efficacy of tetracaine gel, likely in related to enhanced percutaneous permeation. From: Liu, Y., Ye, X., Feng, X., Zhou, G., Rong, Z., Fang, C., & Chen, H. (2005). Menthol facilitates the skin analgesic effect of tetracaine gel. International journal of pharmaceutics, 305(1), 31-36.
- Topical application of menthol on humans affects nociceptors to reduce pain. From; Wasner, G., Schattschneider, J., Binder, A., & Baron, R. (2004). Topical menthol—a human model for cold pain by activation and sensitization of C nociceptors. Brain, 127(5), 1159-1171.
- Menthol showed potential as a topical analgesic. From: Green, B. G., & McAuliffe, B. L. (2000). Menthol desensitization of capsaicin irritation: evidence of a short-term anti-nociceptive effect. Physiology & Behavior, 68(5), 631-639.
- Terpene alcohols demonstrate local anaesthetic activity including linalool, terpinen-4-ol, menthol, and geraniol. From: Ghelardini, C., Galeotti, N., & Mazzanti, G. (2001). Local anaesthetic activity of monoterpenes and phenylpropanes of essential oils. Planta medica, 67(06), 564-566.
- Essential oil constituents with an analgesic activity are reviewed. Included are p-cymene, carvacrol, linalool, eugenol, menthol, alpha-bisabolol, cinnamaldehyde, citronellal, citronellol, citronellyl acetate, alpha-phelandrene, alpha-terpeneol, vanillin, borneol, myrtenol, pulegone, citral, thymol, limonene, nerol, anethole, nerolidol, carvone, farnesol, and beta-caryphyllene. From: Lima, T., da Nóbrega, F., de Brito, A., & de Sousa, D. (2017). Analgesic-like activity of essential oil constituents: an update. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(12), 2392.
- In ten healthy men, menthol was applied in varying concentrations to the left thigh (0.5, 4.6, and 10 percent). The 4.6% concentration showed the strongest amount of cooling. From: Lasanen, R., Julkunen, P., Airaksinen, O., & Töyräs, J. (2016). Menthol concentration in topical cold gel does not have significant effect on skin cooling. Skin Research and Technology, 22(1), 40-45.
- In 19 healthy participants, ice and/or diluted menthol were applied and blood flow was measured. It was found that applying a 3.5% menthol helped reduce peripheral blood flow, and the combination of applying both crushed ice and menthol had an additive effect of reducing blood flow. From: Topp, R., Ledford, E. R., & Jacks, D. E. (2013). Topical menthol, ice, peripheral blood flow, and perceived discomfort. Journal of athletic training, 48(2), 220-225.
- In 16 subjects, topical application to the thigh of a 3.5% and an 10% menthol rapidly reduced blood flow. This may aid to attenuate the inflammation process. From: Topp, R., Winchester, L. J., Schilero, J., & Jacks, D. (2011). Effect of topical menthol on ipsilateral and contralateral superficial blood flow following a bout of maximum voluntary muscle contraction. International journal of sports physical therapy, 6(2), 83.
- In 17 healthy adults, 3.5% menthol was more effective than ice in rapidly reducing blood flow and improving lower arm muscle strength. From: Topp, R., Winchester, L., Mink, A. M., Kaufman, J. S., & Jacks, D. E. (2011). Comparison of the effects of ice and 3.5% menthol gel on blood flow and muscle strength of the lower arm. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 20(3), 355-366.
- Oral antibacterial effectiveness of essential oils is reviewed. Oils include: Achillea ligustica (yarrow), Baccharis dracunculifolia, Croton cajucara (sacaca), Cryptomeria japonica (Japanese red cedar), Coriandrum sativum (coriander), Eugenia caryophyllata (clove), Lippia sidoides, Ocimum americanum (basil), and Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary). Constituents worth mentioning include menthol and eugenol. From: Freires, I. A., Denny, C., Benso, B., de Alencar, S. M., & Rosalen, P. L. (2015). Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their isolated constituents against cariogenic bacteria: a systematic review. Molecules, 20(4), 7329-7358.
- Peppermint oil and menthol exert an antiemetic effect in vitro. From: Heimes, K., Hauk, F., & Verspohl, E. J. (2011). Mode of action of peppermint oil and (‐)‐menthol with respect to 5‐HT3 receptor subtypes: binding studies, cation uptake by receptor channels and contraction of isolated rat ileum. Phytotherapy Research, 25(5), 702-708.
- Reasons for peppermint oils spasmolytic effect on the gastrointestinal tract are discussed. From: Grigoleit, H. G., & Grigoleit, P. (2005). Pharmacology and preclinical pharmacokinetics of peppermint oil. Phytomedicine, 12(8), 612-616.
- A menthol solution applied to the forehead and temporal area reduced the migraine headache pain. From: Borhani Haghighi, A., Motazedian, S., Rezaii, R., Mohammadi, F., Salarian, L., Pourmokhtari, M., … & Miri, R. (2010). Cutaneous application of menthol 10% solution as an abortive treatment of migraine without aura: a randomised, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, crossed‐over study. International journal of clinical practice, 64(4), 451-456.
- Applications of menthol and cooling reduced skin itching. From: Bromma, B., Scharein, E., Darsow, U., & Ring, J. (1995). Effects of menthol and cold on histamine-induced itch and skin reactions in man. Neuroscience letters, 187(3), 157-160.
- Essential oils of sage, rosemary, thyme, juniper, pine, turpentine, and eucalyptus and their constituents of thujone, eucalyptol, camphor, borneol, thymol, alpha-pinene, beta-pinene, bornylacetate, and menthol inhibited bone resorption. From: Mühlbauer, R. C., Lozano, A., Palacio, S., Reinli, A., & Felix, R. (2003). Common herbs, essential oils, and monoterpenes potently modulate bone metabolism. Bone, 32(4), 372-380.
- L-menthol was an effective enhancer for a transdermal therapeutic system. From: Olivella, M. S., Lhez, L., Pappano, N. B., & Debattista, N. B. (2007). Effects of dimethylformamide and L-menthol permeation enhancers on transdermal delivery of quercetin. Pharmaceutical development and technology, 12(5), 481-484.
Compiled by: Kathy Sadowski