Menthol is the solid that is derived from peppermint oil and from there it gets its characteristic soothing odor. The other distinguishing feature of menthol is the sensation of cold that a person gets after using menthol. It was previously called peppermint camphor because like camphor it vaporizes without leaving any residue.
Properties Of Menthol
Before knowing about its uses a look at its general properties will show why they are used as decongestants, analgesics, etc. Menthol carries all the properties of peppermint oil but in a more concentrated form. It not only has anesthetic properties but is also a good germicidal. Initially application of menthol produces a burning sensation which is followed by a cooling sensation and numbing of the part where applied. Here are its many uses.
Providing Relief From Local Pains
It causes a general numbness of the applied area which relieves the pain. This analgesic property of menthol is used for treatment of pains arising from insect bites, burns, eczema and ringworm, toothache and earache, neuralgia, sciatica, pains arising from carbuncles and boils, etc. In muscular pains, menthol is applied topically in the form of creams and sprays. However, this type of relief is temporary and menthol does not cure the causes of such pains. This is why menthol is also used as a topical analgesic for relief of arthritis pain also.
Treatment Of Itching And Cellular Inflammations
Menthol is a good cure for itching. It is often used to cure itches arising from eczema and other skin problems. A 20 percent solution in oil is used for treatment of boils of the external portion of the auditory canal. A few drops of the solution is applied on cotton and placed on the affected portion and changed every 24 hours for providing relief.
Treatment Of Hay Fever, Coryza, etc.
Menthol vapor is often used to treat conditions of hay fever and coryza. Sometimes a 10 or 20 percent solution is directly applied on the nostrils when the membranes thicken to obstruct the Eustachian tube. It is also used for the treatment of catarrhal sore throat, ozoena and in chronic cases of pharynx inflammation. Menthol has also been successfully used as a decongestant agent. It can clear the mucus build up, especially in the respiratory tract by thinning mucus and allowing it to flow out freely.
Providing Relief In Asthma And Chronic Bronchitis
Atomized inhalation of menthol has proved useful in providing relief in cases of chronic bronchitis and asthma. It has also proved itself in the treatment of pertussis. Menthol vapor is also used to provide relief from irritable bronchial cough. Unsubstantiated claims have been made about using it in nebulizing spray for treatment of laryngeal and pulmonary thysis and reports say that menthol has successfully arrested and retarded the conditions.
Menthol can allay vomiting especially during pregnancy. It is also used in mouthwashes not only to give a fresh feeling but also for its germicidal properties. It provides relief in cases of ulcers of the mouth and gum diseases. For similar reasons, it is also used in toothpastes, chewing gums, etc. During gastrointestinal Endoscopy, menthol is used as a smooth muscle relaxant and an antispasmodic.