What Is Menthol – Why Are Menthol Cigarettes Banned in Some Countries?

What Is Menthol - Why Are Menthol Cigarettes Banned in Some Countries?

Menthol is an available in edible forms and made of mint extracts. It is widely consumed in America in the forms of chewing gums or candies. However, they can be harmful to our bodies due to high sugar content. Many also intake menthol in the forms of cigarettes, which have adverse impacts. Many countries banned this substance, read ahead to know why.

What is menthol?

It is a cyclic alcohol synthetically made organic complex. It is white and is a solid substance at room temperature while it melts above that. Moreover, it synthesizes itself from the oils of peppermint, corn mint, or other mints and is waxy and crystalline in nature. It has medicinal uses in preparing lotions, ointments, nasal inhalers, cough syrups, etc. Moreover, menthol is also used as a painkiller, so it is an analgesic. Apart from its medicinal uses, it is useful for flavoring cigarettes, liquors, foods, toothpaste, cosmetics, and perfumes.

Menthol gives a soothing effect to a dry throat, and it significantly reduces cough reflex. It also helps to kill the bacteria responsible for gingivitis. Moreover, you will find people use this to treat patients suffering from muscle and joint pains. It also helps reduce arthritis pain and backache. However, it has adverse effects on calcium channels that exist in the human cell membrane.

What is the first thing that crosses your mind when we say menthol? Don’t you get a feeling of freshness and a cooling effect? So, this cooling effect is caused due to interaction on a molecular level in your cell’s calcium channel. However, it shows toxicity if inhaled in excessive proportion.

Excessive ingestion of the substance shows systemic toxicity, including seizures, coma even death occurs. Some people are susceptible to allergies when it is put to their skin. You can see severe skin reactions like irritation and even chemical burns, say several reports.

Some inhalers available in the market contain menthol, which apparently has a feel-good effect making breathing easier. But actually, it does not reduce the congestion, and more inflammation develops eventually.

Why does menthol give a cooling sensation?

Mint flavored candy always helps to reduce throat pain and nasal congestion. But have you ever wondered why? Well, it is because of the substance.

Menthol is an indispensable organic substance extracted from mint plants, namely spearmint, and peppermint. It provides a chilling sensibility and you can apply it to reduce minor aches and throat irritation.

Menthol is a clear and transparent white-colored compound which is hard at around 20 to 22 degree Celsius and its melting point is around 36 – 38 degree Celsius. Menthol has been used in tobacco since the 1920s, as it minimizes the bitterness of cigarette smoking and discomforts from nicotine. Most African Americans prefer to use menthol-flavored cigarettes due to their cooling sensations. It obstructs calcium channel function and voltage-gated sodium channel, minimizing neural function, which can trigger muscles. The aesthetic component of this element helps in local anesthesia. The key property of peppermint oil is menthol. It is a crystal form alcohol consisting of minty savor and aroma, present in several organic oils. It reduces nasal congestion and acts as an anodyne.

The chemical formula is C10H20O and its chemical name is (1R,2S,5R)-isopropyl -5-methyl cyclohexanol. The element has very low solubility in the water. At 214.6 degrees Celsius temperature it starts boiling.

Chemical composition of menthol

Menthol is famous for its cooling property and is in use as a olfactory catalyst in numerous products. You will find it in mint flora, like spearmint and peppermint. The compound is mainly generated through inflammable oils from Mentha species.

Some products are in use as a rubefacient for counterirritant. Its Ca2+ channel binding agent generates its pain-relieving characters. Like Terpenes, this is another essential substance that helps another drug dissolve through the skin, like TCA imipramine.

Interestingly, Capsaicin generates the heat sensation without initiating actual heat, whereas it works oppositely, causing a cooling sensation. In the following part, chemically, we will observe what is menthol.

In the world of chemistry, menthol is known as 5-Methyl-2-(propane-2-yl) cyclohexane-1-ol. This element is a structural stereoisomer in the trans- direction to hydroxyl and methyl category. You will find it in a white crystal-like structure with the molecular formula of C10H20O.

Why most countries ban menthol in cigarettes?

As we have mentioned earlier, menthol has immense use in cigarettes. But it can be more toxic than the regular ones. That’s why menthol cigarettes are not in use nowadays in different parts of the world, including European Union countries. Researchers show that the combination of nicotine with this element is detrimental to lung health.  Having said all the pros and cons, it is worth mentioning that this remains a popular attraction in lozenges, toothpaste, and other medical and commercial products worldwide.

Menthol is known in different names such as mint, menthol, pain relief agent. But various names do not hide its vicious effect. According to TCA, Tobacco Control Act, menthol is a permissible compound for cigarettes. However, many organizations have taken an oath to bring down cigarette addiction in recent times.

What research says about non-flavored and flavored cigarette smokers?

The FDA stated that menthol obscures the raw flavor of tobacco that helps young and beginners stick to the addiction. Also, the cigarettes can strengthen the taste of tobacco and accelerate the charm of regular smoking. In the US, 85% intake of these cigarettes are by African Americans. In comparison, only 30% of the White Americans smoke the non-flavored ones. Moreover, it is seen that 18.6 million Black smokers in the US have reduced smoking with the banning of menthol cigarettes. In between 2016-2018, seven Canadian territories have banned these cigarettes. As a result, 21.5 percent have given up smoking, and 59.1 percent shifted to non-flavored smoking.

Why be aware of menthol cigarettes?

Menthol can be useful for things like a cough drop or pain relief. However, you must not inhale or ignite both these. So, this is why it is useful in other products and not an ideal component in cigarettes.

In past years, menthol cigarettes have been marketed as a robust and beneficial product. But recently, it is proved that menthol cigarette’s harmfulness is the same as regular cigarettes. The harmful effect is unchanged for both cases. These cigarettes came into the American market in 1925.

Menthol works as a marshaling tool for cigarette-making companies. It can reduce the strong flavor of tobacco, thus making it popular among beginners. So, companies like Newport, Marlboro targeted women for this benefit. You will find women smoke more menthol cigarettes than men.

Multiple uses of menthol

Menthol plays a crucial role in reducing minor aches, severe coughing, and strep throat. It works perfectly to relax muscles, and its cooling components lessen spasms. Furthermore, menthol has analgesic properties that diminish headaches and other minor pains. Peppermint oil is an essential oil that is great for aromatherapy. Now that you have a brief idea, let us check out in details what are the multiple uses of this element:

Mitigating the IBS issues

Menthol is an important component to treat irritation bowel syndrome. IBS refers to chronic gastrointestinal states, which include constipation, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Scientists have observed that the substance can reduce the symptoms of IBS. Peppermint oil capsules relax the gastrointestinal muscles and minimize the inflammatory effects. Menthol also reduces the aches sensibility in the gastrointestinal path. It is one of the key elements to relieve functional dyspepsia. This particular condition involves stomach pain and bloating.

Effective to treat nausea

Nausea can happen due to various reasons. And peppermint oil can reduce nausea levels after inhaling because of its its content. Peppermint oil is essential to lessen vomiting and nausea during pregnancy.

One of the primary uses of this substance is to reduce migraine headaches and tension headaches. Current studies have revealed that peppermint oil tablets are effective on non-cardiac chest aches and swallowing. Around 50% of patients have confirmed their improvement after using menthol.

Skin and hair treatment

You will find several beauty products containing peppermint oil. But the possible benefits of contemplation of this element are still unknown. You can reduce chronic itching through peppermint oil. Researchers suggest one drop of peppermint oil solution effectively cures the long severe itching problems. Only 3% peppermint oil or menthol solution stimulates the growth of thick hair.

Fights against bacteria and fungus infections

Menthol has antibacterial properties and is effective on several fungus infections. It is also works wonderfully against several variants of candida yeast.

Harm effects of menthol

Gradually as we look through this article, you know what menthol and its works in your system. Cold and menthol receptor (CMR1) protein is present in the TRPM8 gene. This element can catalyze the TRPM8 passage. This generates cold sensitivity where skin can sense cooling effects. You will see an increase in GABAergic circulation in the presence of menthol. This circulation helps to suppress the elation of neurons.

Menthol can fight against bacteria like Lactobacillus sp. and Streptococci sp., Aspergillus spp.

FDA has put a warning that menthol is a highly flammable product. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration declared the flammable nature of this element. One should not put any flammable item near menthol-contained products. Several citizens use different types of it’s products. You will find that people produce menthol cigarettes mainly for the cooling sensation after inhalation. It lowers the harshness of tobacco for users. Menthol cigarettes are as hazardous as any other non-menthol cigarettes. Many teenagers like smoke these cigarettes to try out nicotine. Slowly it shoots up the dependency level on nicotine.

  • Surpassing 54% of teenagers, ages 12-17indulge themselves in smoking these
  • In recent studies, 93% of Black people have begun smoking this type of cigarettes
  • The percentage is comparatively low among White people (44%).

So, let us check out the following to learn about the harmful effects of this substance:

Breathing issues

As previously stated, menthol cigarettes escalate nicotine dependency by stimulating Brain Nicotine Accumulation (BNA). It mainly inhibits the body from sensing smoking irritation. Smokers of these cigarettes visit medical centers more often than non-flavored smokers. A research study has shown that menthol smokers have performed miserably bad to cover a distance of few minutes. They have faced more breathing-related problems than a regular unflavored smoker.

Cold congestion

An excessive dose can cause paroxysm, weariness, Ataxia, vomiting, and contact dermatitis.

Kindly restrict use in the eye, nasal area, or mouth. Nasal inhalers containing menthol can give relief for some time, but it does not remove the congestion. For cough-drop, one should always consult a bit of medical advice for usages. You must always take medical help in the case of chronic bronchitis and cough with mucus. Menthol syrup can give you relief from the pain but does not cure you overall.

Skin irritation

Overuse of this substance can cause eye and skin agitation. Itchy throat, mouth swelling, swollen lips indicate one has allergies. All of these symptoms are dangerous, and you need to take medical help immediately. Do not delay a minute of you see these signs.

Final Thoughts

As we bring you to the end of our article today, you know what is menthol and how it helps you. We have also given you an idea about the adverse side effects it can leave on our health overall. So, always test menthol in small patches before applying it to your skin. And if you suffer from a cold or cough, always use it after your doctor advises you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here