Menthol is extracted from the essential oil of peppermint (Mentha piperita) or field mint (Mentha arvensis). This molecule (known as a “covalent organic compound”) was discovered in Japan more than two thousand years ago, but isolated for the first time in 1771. Since the end of the 20th century, menthol can also be obtained by chemical synthesis, which makes it possible to increase its commercial production. In cosmetics, remedies, etc., you can find it under the name “2-isopropyl-5-methylcyclohexanol” or l-menthol.
Pure menthol… in pencil!
Menthol is used in the form of a crystalline white pencil (or stick) inserted in a wooden case with a screw cap. Small and practical, it does not take up space, fits easily in a pocket or a bag and can thus be carried everywhere with you (at the office, on a trip, etc.). You will also find it in the form of a macaron packaged in a wooden case (boxwood or beech). Compact in shape, these blocks contain only pure menthol, made by extracting mint essential oil. Some are obtained by using chemical solvents; these shapes are to be avoided, but it remains difficult to spot them because the brands do not specify it.
How to use it ?
Menthol can help you quickly relieve small pains. To use, apply the menthol pencil or macaron directly to the targeted area(s) several times a day, respecting an interval of fifteen minutes between each application.
Simply massage gently in a circular motion the sore area. For example, apply it to the temples and forehead with moderate pressure in circular motions at the first symptoms of a headache. You will thus benefit from the analgesic, analgesic, calming and decongestant properties of essential oil of mint.
By creating a sensation of cold, it is also very effective in massaging a sore muscle, aches, cramps, contractures or painful joints. With its “ice cube” and vasoconstrictor effect, it is a good local anesthetic indicated to reduce pain after a blow or to soothe a mosquito or spider bite: make light circular movements around the area. It will also help you decongest heavy legs or swollen feet.
Its decongestant and antiseptic power will help you clear a stuffy nose. In case of sinusitisgently massage around the wings of the nose with the pencil.
Thanks to its antibacterial and soothing properties, it is finally indicated against itchy skin. Ask your doctor for advice before using it if you have hives, eczema or other dermatoses.
Precautions to know
- Keep your menthol pencil (or macaroon) in a dry place, away from heat. In solid form below 20°C, it liquefies easily and melts at over 25°C. Do not take it to a hot country and do not leave it in direct sunlight or near a heater.
- Avoid contact with eyes as this substance is very irritating. Remember to wash your hands after use, so as not to be tempted to put a finger soaked in menthol in your eye!
- Never apply it to injured skin (wounds, eczema, hives, burns, etc.), or to sensitive areas, or to mucous membranes, as it can be irritating.
- Menthol is contraindicated in epileptics and not recommended for children under 7, pregnant and breastfeeding women. An allergic reaction is possible in sensitive people, always try it in the bend of the elbow and watch for a possible reaction.
- Be careful, menthol can antagonize the effect of homeopathic medicines. Do not use menthol-based toothpaste during homeopathic treatment.
Recipe to decongest swollen feet
Crush with a pestle 2 g of menthol crystals with 20 g of Epsom salt. Add 50 g of coarse sea salt and 25 ml of calophylle vegetable oil. Massage your feet with this preparation. Rinse then dry. As menthol can be irritating, consider doing a sensitization test 24 hours beforehand in the bend of the elbow.