What Is It?

Menthol is an alcohol that can be isolated from peppermint or other mint oils. It is used in the formulation of a wide variety of cosmetics and personal care products.

Why Is It Used?

Menthol is used as a denaturant, flavoring agent and fragrance ingredient.

Scientific Facts

Menthol is obtained from peppermint oil or other mint oils or prepared synthetically. It has a peppermint taste and odor. Menthol has anesthetic properties and is widely used to relieve minor sore throat irritation. Mentha arvenis is the primary species of mint used to make natural menthol crystals and natural menthol flakes.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes Menthol on its list of substances considered Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use in food. It is also an approved direct food additive. The FDA has also determined that Menthol is safe and effective in Over-The-Counter (OTC) cold drug products as a topical antitussive, and in OTC anorectal drug products as an analgesic, anestethic and antipruritic.

Menthol was not to be genotoxic or carcinogenic in studies by the National Toxicology Program of the United States.

Link to FDA Code of Federal Regulations for Menthol Food additives

Menthol may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

More Scientific Information

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 at temperatures slightly above room temperature. The main form of menthol occurring in nature is (-)-menthol. Menthol has local anesthetic and counterirritant qualities. Menthol’s ability to chemically trigger cold-sensitive receptors in the skin is responsible for the well known cooling sensation that it provokes when inhaled, eaten, or applied to the skin. Menthol does not cause an actual drop in temperature.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Find out more about the regulation of over-the-counter drugs by the Food and Drug Administration