Ingredient Highlight: Menthol in Skincare 

menthol, or mint leaves, scattered on a white background

Menthol, also called peppermint camphor, is well known for its minty scent and tingly, cooling sensation when applied to your skin. We add this versatile ingredient to various skincare products, from CBD rapid cooling cream and after-sun lotions to shampoos, ointments, cleansers, and shaving creams. 

Another reason why menthol has found its way into cooling creams and other products is because of its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. Combining menthol with CBD amplifies the effects synergistically. After all researchers are exploring CBD for managing pain and inflammation. 

We’re putting the spotlight on menthol this month so you can learn all about it and how it can help you with relief from inflammation and pain.

What Is Menthol as a Topical Pain Reliever?

Menthol is cyclic terpene alcohol that occurs naturally in plants and trees such as peppermint, eucalyptus, corn mint, wild mint, and other Mentha plant species. Chemists can also synthetically produce it.

Once extracted from plant material or processed in a lab, skincare makers then add it to topical creams and ointments. It helps soothe and relieve pain related to musculoskeletal problems like muscle cramps, sprains, strains, minor injury aches, and arthritis. 

How Does Menthol Help With Pain?

Man at gym rubbing cream on his knee
An excellent tool for post-workout recovery: CBD & Menthol combined

Since ancient times, health professionals have recommended menthol as a non-opioid pain reliever. 

A 2018 study tells us that menthol is a vasoactive agent and a selective activator of transient receptor potential melastatin-8 (TRPM8) channels. The ingredient is a calcium current blocker, which helps you feel less pain, and it has a local anesthetic effect. 

When you use a menthol cooling cream, menthol becomes a counterirritant. It cools the skin by triggering the cold-sensitive TRPM8 channels. Menthol initially stimulates nociceptors. These receptors are peripheral sensory neurons that sense pain, itching, and other irritations before it desensitizes these neurons. 

According to a 2007 study, a one percent concentration of menthol depresses the skin’s sensory receptors. Menthol concentrations of 1.25 to 16 percent are counterirritants. Menthol then stimulates sensory receptors, producing an initial hot sensation followed by a cold feeling on your skin. The study further states that menthol, just like capsaicin, can cause analgesia, meaning it’s a pain reliever. 

Menthol in a CBD Rapid Cooling Cream 

When menthol and CBD are both used in topical creams, you get even better results. In a study on cannabidiol use in chronic pain CBD was found to significantly reduce pain. This was especially true for patients suffering from chronic pain due to conditions like cancer, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. 

Skincare manufacturers combine CBD and menthol in their pain-relief creams and lotions so the CBD will be absorbed more effectively. Menthol opens skin pores, not because of a skin temperature change but because of membrane interaction, allowing better chemical absorption. 

Moreover, CBD can also penetrate deeper into the skin because menthol is a monoterpene vasodilator. This means that when you apply topical menthol to your skin, more blood flows to the area where you applied the cream or ointment. It then reduces the skin barrier function

Menthol and CBD are also complementary “healing” ingredients because both help with deep muscle and joint pain

Is Menthol Anti-Inflammatory?

An immunomodulatory compound helps support your immune function by changing the way your immune system responds to a “threat” like a pulled muscle and its byproduct (inflammation) in a beneficial way. Menthol is an example of an immunomodulatory compound that has a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

When you have inflammation and apply a topical menthol solution to the problem area, menthol reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress. Although this is how our bodies naturally react, it can result in chronic cellular stress. 

Menthol also reduces inflammation by calming red and inflamed skin when the TRPM8 receptors activate prostaglandins, an inflammatory cytokine. 

CBD Rapid Cooling Cream with Menthol for Skincare 

Menthol is an effective pain management and anti-inflammatory treatment option, especially for musculoskeletal aches and pains.

When combining menthol with CBD in a rapid cooling cream, the effects are twofold since the CBD can get to work faster. Both ingredients work to alleviate pain and inflammation. Check out our Chill Out – Hemp Freeze Relief Rub to get you the much-needed pain relief you need.