In both the CBD and cannabis space, you may encounter various balms and lotions with a refreshing, cooling blast of menthol. Ripe with the smell of peppermint, menthol is an organic compound that enhances the pain-relieving effects of CBD and THC.
What is Menthol? Why is it Used?
Menthol is a terpene derived from mint plants. It is widely available in both natural and synthetic forms. Menthol has been used throughout ancient and traditional modern medicine for its cooling, pain-blocking effects.
Specifically, menthol is a selective activator of transient receptor potential ion channel melastatin 8 (TRPM8). TRPM8 helps sense cold temperatures. Thus, menthol activates TRPM8 when applied topically, triggering its signature cooling effect.
Additionally, menthol is vasoactive, increasing vasodilation (blood vessel dilation) when applied to your skin.
At low concentrations, menthol decreases nociception — the sensation and coding of unpleasant stimuli by the nervous system. But at high concentrations, menthol can produce an irritating feeling. It’s also worth noting that you should not apply menthol over broken skin, as it will burn.
In short, menthol has analgesic properties that help reduce inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
Menthol-Infused CBD vs. Products without Menthol
Menthol-infused CBD products combine the pain-relieving effects of both plant-based compounds to provide a fast, cooling sense of relief. The effects of menthol can be felt almost instantly.
Non-menthol-infused products can relieve pain, but it may take a little longer to feel their effects. They are also highly moisturizing, which is great for keeping your skin hydrated as the temperature outside begins to drop.
Key Takeaways: Menthol Promotes Fast-Acting Pain-Relief
Menthol is an organic compound derived from mint plants. It has long since been recognized throughout ancient and modern medicine for its cooling effects. Furthermore, menthol has pain-relieving properties that can reduce inflammatory and neuropathic discomfort.
- Pergolizzi, J. V., Taylor, R., LeQuang, J. A., & Raffa, R. B. (2018). The role and mechanism of action of menthol in topical analgesic products. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 43(3), 313–319. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpt.12679
- Battaglia, V. (2022, October 1). TRP Channels: The Expanded Endocannabinoid System. Think About Cannabis. https://www.thinkaboutcannabis.com/cannabis-science/trp-channels-the-expanded-endocannabinoid-system