Research over the past 20 years has clearly established a molecular basis for l (−)-menthol (subsequently referred to as menthol) in mimicking cold stimulation of the thermosensitive neurons when applied to the skin or mucosal surfaces ( McKemy, 2007 ). Whether via ingestion, inhalation, or
Christopher J. Stevens, Megan L.R. Ross, and Roxanne M. Vogel
Martin J. Barwood, Joe Kupusarevic, and Stuart Goodall
, any intervention that offsets these disturbances in thermal perception may prove to be ergogenic and influence exercise behavior. 3 One such intervention with the potential to do so is the topical application of menthol to the skin. This has been found to change the action potential of the Transient
David G. Behm, Nehara Herat, Gerard M.J. Power, Joseph A. Brosky, Phil Page, and Shahab Alizadeh
analgesics. 4 – 7 A study examining the difference between ice and topical menthol on biceps brachii pain, determined that the topical menthol decreased discomfort to a greater degree than ice. 7 Several other studies have illustrated that the use of topical menthol analgesics decreased perceived pain 2
Marcia L. Jerram, Dane Baker, Tiaki B. Smith, Phil Healey, Lee Taylor, and Katherine Black
-water immersion. 7 Perceptual cooling strategies, including the use of menthol mouth rinsing, have gained popularity with practitioners and athletes as they are quick and easy to administer. 7 , 17 Subsequently, research has shown physical performance may be altered through interventions, including menthol, 16
Erica H. Gavel, Heather M. Logan-Sprenger, Joshua Good, Ira Jacobs, and Scott G. Thomas
), elevated heart rate (HR) at a submaximal workload, greater ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and thermal discomfort. 2 Interventions to improve performance can be thermal, nonthermal, prior to, or during competition. 2 – 6 Using a menthol (MEN) mouth rinse (MR) throughout or during the latter stage of
Daniel H. Huffman, Brian G. Pietrosimone, Terry L. Grindstaff, Joseph M. Hart, Susan A. Saliba, and Christopher D. Ingersoll
Motoneuron-pool facilitation after cryotherapy may be mediated by stimulation of thermoreceptors surrounding a joint. It is unknown whether menthol counterirritants, which also stimulate thermoreceptors, have the same effect on motoneuron-pool excitability (MNPE).
To compare quadriceps MNPE after a menthol-counterirritant application to the anterior knee, a sham counterirritant application, and a control treatment in healthy subjects.
A blinded, randomized controlled laboratory study.
Thirty healthy subjects (16 m, 14 f; 24.1 ± 3.9 y, 170.6 ± 11.4 cm, 72.1 ± 15.6 kg) with no history of lower extremity surgery volunteered for this study.
Two milliliters of menthol or sham counterirritant was applied to the anterior knee; control subjects received no intervention.
Main Outcome Measures:
The average vastus medialis normalized Hoffmann reflex (Hmax:Mmax ratio) was used to measure MNPE. Measurements were recorded at 5, 15, 25, and 35 minutes postintervention and compared with baseline measures.
Hmax:Mmax ratios for all groups significantly decreased over time (F 4,108 = 10.52, P < .001; menthol: baseline = .32 ± .20, 5 min = .29 ± .18, 15 min = .27 ± .18, 25 min = .28 ± .19, 35 min = .27 ± .18; sham: baseline = .46 ± .26, 5 min = .36 ± .20, 15 min = .35 ± .19, 25 min = .35 ± .20, 35 min = .34 ± .18; control: baseline = .48 ± .32, 5 min = .37 ± .27, 15 min = .37 ± .27, 25 min = .37 ± .29, 35 min = .35 ± .28). No significant Group × Time interaction or group differences in Hmax:Mmax were found.
Menthol did not affect quadriceps MNPE in healthy subjects.
Robert Topp, Lee Winchester, Amber M. Mink, Jeremiah S. Kaufman, and Dean E. Jacks
Soft-tissue injuries are commonly treated with ice or menthol gels. Few studies have compared the effects of these treatments on blood flow and muscle strength.
To compare blood flow and muscle strength in the forearm after an application of ice or menthol gel or no treatment.
Repeated-measures design in which blood-flow and muscle-strength data were collected from subjects under 3 treatment conditions.
Exercise physiology laboratory.
17 healthy adults with no impediment to the blood flow or strength in their right arm, recruited through word of mouth.
Three separate treatment conditions were randomly applied topically to the right forearm: no treatment, 0.5 kg of ice, or 3.5 mL of 3.5% menthol gel. To avoid injury ice was only applied for 20 min.
Main Outcome Measures:
At each data-collection session blood flow (mL/min) of the right radial artery was determined at baseline before any treatment and then at 5, 10, 15, and 20 min after treatment using Doppler ultrasound. Muscle strength was assessed as maximum isokinetic flexion and extension of the wrist at 30°/s 20, 25, and 30 min after treatment.
The menthol gel reduced (−42%, P < .05) blood flow in the radial artery 5 min after application but not at 10, 15, or 20 min after application. Ice reduced (−48%, P < .05) blood flow in the radial artery only after 20 min of application. After 15 min of the control condition blood flow increased (83%, P < .05) from baseline measures. After the removal of ice, wrist-extension strength did not increase per repeated strength assessment as it did during the control condition (9−11%, P < .05) and menthol-gel intervention (8%, P < .05).
Menthol has a fast-acting, short-lived effect of reducing blood flow. Ice reduces blood flow after a prolonged duration. Muscle strength appears to be inhibited after ice application.
J. William Myrer, J. Brent Feland, and Gilbert W. Fellingham
Chronic knee pain is a prevalent health problem of old and middle age. The authors’ objective was to determine whether a topical analgesic would reduce knee pain and improve the function of a group of 40- to 65-year-old people with chronic knee pain. The experimental design was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. The dependent variables were knee pain, active range of motion, and isometric strength. Forty-six men and women volunteered, of whom 3 dropped out, leaving 23 in the treatment group and 20 in the placebo group. Knee pain was assessed with a visual analogue scale and the knee-pain scale for frequency and severity. Testing took place before treatment and after 21 and 35 days of treatment. The results indicated that although both groups experienced improved pain scores, there were no differences between groups over the treatment period for any of the dependent variables.
Alan J. McCubbin, Bethanie A. Allanson, Joanne N. Caldwell Odgers, Michelle M. Cort, Ricardo J.S. Costa, Gregory R. Cox, Siobhan T. Crawshay, Ben Desbrow, Eliza G. Freney, Stephanie K. Gaskell, David Hughes, Chris Irwin, Ollie Jay, Benita J. Lalor, Megan L.R. Ross, Gregory Shaw, Julien D. Périard, and Louise M. Burke
sensation is the use of L(-) menthol. Menthol is a cyclic terpene alcohol found in mint leaves, which activates oropharyngeal cold receptors and increases the threshold temperature for their activation, creating a feeling of coolness ( McKemy et al., 2002 ; Peier et al., 2002 ). Menthol can be applied
Janeen M. Hill and Ken D. Sumida
The effectiveness of topical counterirritants in relieving pain remains unproven.
To examine the effectiveness of 2 topical counterirritant creams in reducing DOMS.
Subjects performed eccentric contractions of the non-dominant elbow-flexor muscles. 48 hours later they were randomly assigned to the following groups (n = 18 per group): placebo cream, capsaicin cream, or menthol/methyl salicylate cream.
Pain was assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) before the exercise, 48 hours afterward, and 15 minutes after the cream was removed.
All groups demonstrated a significant (P < .05) elevation in their VAS scores 48 hours after the eccentric exercise, 0.12 ± 0.04 vs 2.79 ± 0.22. Only the subjects in the menthol/methyl salicylate group indicated a significant (P < .05) reduction in the perception of pain after treatment; their VAS declined to 1.22 ± 0.25.
A single application of the menthol/methyl salicylate cream is effective in relieving DOMS.