Anti-irritant, Pain Reliever
This is the 24th installment in our weekly series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes,” published every Monday. For more information, read the introduction to this series, “Let’s Talk Terpenes: A Guide For Medical Marijuana Patients.”
Today’s focus is on menthol, one of the most well-known and in-demand terpenes in the world. This waxy, crystalline terpene appears naturally in plants including spearmint and peppermint. Although this monoterpene is not the most prominent, it’s likely the most familiar within the cannabis plant.  
Menthol obviously boasts a minty aroma and cooling sensation and can be found in numerous cannabis strains such as Green Monster, Wonder Woman OG, Himalayan Gold, Cabbage Patch, and Space Needle – just to name a few. Understanding individual terpene characteristics can play a key factor in selecting the ideal strain. Whether inhaled or used aromatically or topically, menthol can be a key component in the broad spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids that maximize the therapeutic effects cannabis may provide.
No evidence exists that inhaling naturally occurring menthol is harmful to one’s health, but for those who don’t wish to use an inhaled version, topical salves and creams can be utilized. Using a menthol cannabis salve on the chest at night may help reduce congestion and will also interact with cannabinoid receptors to promote a sense of calm and contribute to a more restful sleep. 
It’s possible that more medical research has been conducted on menthol than any other terpene, and the majority of these studies are based on human health. Significant research exists on menthol’s therapeutic properties in the treatment of pain relief as well as in reducing inflammation and oxidation. 
Several studies have been conducted to interpret menthol’s role as an analgesic or pain reliever. Topical menthol application significantly reduced pain intensity among people with symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, according to this 2014 study, published in the journal Rehabilitation Research and Practice. An Italian study demonstrated how the terpene can act as an analgesic agent when it discovered how menthol could increase the pain threshold in mice during a group of tests. Another study, published in 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics examined the terpene’s role in improving a wide range of painful conditions. 
Studies have also shown menthol serves as an anti-inflammatory, aiding with pain associated with several chronic conditions, such as arthritis and it can also be a potent boost to the immune system.  A 2016 study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that herbal preparations with concentrations of menthol in the 30% to 55% range were effective in decreasing inflammation in animals with a parasitic disease. Because pain is often caused by inflammation, especially of the muscles, it is not surprising that menthol also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. 
This 2014 study published in PLos One tested menthol’s strengths in both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory roles. Researchers tested the effects of orally administered menthol on animals that suffered from gastric ulcers. The results revealed that menthol had antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as gastroprotective abilities. 
As the stigma against medical cannabis continues to fade, hopefully, research and analysis of the plant and the beneficial compounds that comprise it, including terpenes like menthol, continues to intensify. It’s important to educate yourself and talk with your doctors, pharmacists, and others at dispensaries regarding the terpene profiles in available cannabis strains. Feel free to email us to assist with any questions you may have.