Menthol (Molecule of the Month for January 2005)
Menthomenthol, peppermint camphor
Menthol is a covalent organic compound made synthetically or obtained from peppermint or other mint oils. It is a waxy, crystalline substance, clear or white in color, which is solid at room temperature and melts slightly above. The main form of menthol occurring in nature is (-)-menthol, which is assigned the (1R,2S,5R) configuration. Menthol has local anesthetic and counterirritant qualities, and it is widely used to relieve minor throat irritation.
Menthol is contained in non-prescription products for short-term relief of minor sore throat and minor mouth or throat irritation, for example in lip balms and cough medicines. It is classed as an antipruritic, which reduces itching. Menthol is also contained in combination products used for relief of muscle aches, sprains, and similar conditions, as well as in decongestants. In addition, it is used as an additive in certain cigarette brands, both for flavor and to reduce the throat and sinus irritation caused by smoking. Menthol is a common ingredient in mouthwash.
Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)
Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for January 2005 )