Menthol is used in a wide range of products, including inhalants, lozenges, mouthwashes, breath fresheners, and creams, lotions, or ointments for alleviating pain. This HealthHearty write-up lists out the uses, benefits, and side effects of menthol.
Menthol, which is also referred to as methyl salicylate, is an organic compound which is either obtained naturally or synthesized from mint plants. It has a waxy, pliant crystalline structure. It has a tendency to melt at a temperature slightly above the room temperature. It is commonly known for its cooling effect. It is known for its therapeutic properties, and is used in many medicated creams, ointments, sprays, lotions, etc.
Uses and Benefits of Menthol
Menthol is used in several products. Some of these are:
- Breath fresheners, candies, and gum
- Cough drops
- Creams and lotions to relieve itching
- Inhalants, lozenges, or ointments for treating nasal congestion
- Drugs for treating sore mouth, throat, or gums
- Creams, lotions, or ointments to alleviate pain
Menthol is commonly used to treat muscle/joint pain that arises due to medical conditions like arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, etc. It basically stimulates the cold receptors of the skin, thereby producing a cooling effect when inhaled or applied to the skin. It serves as a counter-irritant that produces a superficial inflammation in order to reduce deeper inflammation. Basically, it works by making the skin cool and then warm.
Such skin sensations deflect one’s attention from the pain or ache in the muscles, joints, or tendons, thereby providing relief from the pain or discomfort. However, it must be noted that menthol doesn’t bring about a change the temperature of the skin. It only induces a sensation of temperature change. It is also used to provide relief from sore throat and cough due to common cold, flu, or allergies.
Side Effects of Menthol
Like all other medicines, menthol also has some side effects, of which some are mild, while others might require immediate medical attention. Common dangers or side effects that some consumers have experienced while using menthol cream, lotion, spray, and ointment are listed below:
Cream or Ointment Menthol cream is generally used by people who experience constant muscle pain or ache due to arthritis or any other joint condition. If a person develops an allergic reaction to menthol, he/she could experience symptoms such as:
- Redness and irritation at the area where the cream or lotion has been applied
In case of a serious allergic reaction, the affected individual might experience:
- Breathing difficulty
- Chest tightness
- Swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat
Spray Menthol nasal spray can help provide temporary relief from nasal congestion, cough, or sore throat that might occur due to cold, allergies, sinusitis, or other respiratory infections. Despite its benefits, many consumers have experience some adverse reactions after using the nasal spray. These include:
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chest tightness
- Irritation in the nose
- Redness and irritation at site of application
If you are using a menthol cream or ointment, make sure that you store it at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Also, keep it out of the reach of children. Make sure that the cream doesn’t come in contact with your eyes, lips, nose, mouth, or genital area. Don’t use it on children below the age of 12 years. Consult your healthcare provider, before using it on children. The same applies in case of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Also, wash your hands before and after applying the cream or ointment.
Since menthol is prepared from peppermint or mint oil, in rare cases, consumers could experience side effects associated with the use of peppermint oil. It must be noted that not every consumer is likely to experience the aforementioned side effects of menthol. Moreover, some of these side effects mainly occur due to improper use or method of application. Hence, ensure that you follow all the directions provided on the label. If you do experience any of the aforementioned side effects, discontinue the use, and consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.