Mint and menthol: how freshness ingredients work!

mentoloMenthol is one of the major components of mint essential oil: it has been used in therapy of respiratory disease to give relief to airways and provide a pleasant freshness sensation. For these reasons it is included in several over–the–counter medications. Only peppermint oil (Mentha  piperita L.) is described in the 8th European Pharmacopoeia despite the fact that different species of Mint are used in traditional medicine. Several benefits of Mint biocomponents are exploited in cosmetics, nutraceuticals and medicinal products. The majority of mint-based products are oral-care products (tooth paste, mouthwash) thanks to the antiseptic properties of mint actives and especially to the freshness sensation given to mouth and breath.

Which are the freshness ingredients in different mint species?

Different mint species and the corresponding essential oil varieties with their major compounds are shown in the following table. Each one is related to various olfactory notes and boasts different biological properties.

Table. Major compounds of mint essential oils from different Mint species[1].

Essential oil Mint species Main compounds
Peppermint oil Peppermint M.  piperita menthone, menthol
Spearmint oil,

Native type Scotch Spearmint oil

Spearmint M. spicata,

M.  viloso-nervata,

M.  gentilis nm. cardiaca

carvone, dihydrocarvone
Cornmint oil Cornmint M. arvensis var. piperascens menthol
Pennyroyal oil Pennyroyal M. pulegium pulegone
M. citrate oil Citrata M. citrata linaool, linalyl acetate

Menthol. How does it works?

Mentha piperita generally represents the most used species in health care products due to the high amount of menthol (30%) and menthone (20%). In particular, menthol gives a freshness sensation not only on the skin but also on mucosae because it interacts with thermo-receptors such as the cold and menthol receptor  (i.e.: TRPM8, transient receptor potential ion channels) that represents the molecular transducer of cold sensation when menthol  is inhalated or applied on skin. The activation of cold receptor originates several benefits:

  1. it increases the  patency of  airways (nasal flow)
  2. it reduces the sensation of dyspnoea
  3. at low concentration,  it acts against cough

These important properties are very useful when seasonal illnesses appear with symptoms like cold, nasal congestion and cough.  Some studies on menthol include also Eucalyptus essential oil and its major compound 1,8-cineol: along with menthol, it has important properties against cough.[2]  Menthol helps to clear respiratory tract acting as expectorant: it gives temporary relief to upper airways and alleviates symptoms such as nasal congestion, sinusitis, cold and cough. Several expectorant balms contain a moderate percentage of mint essential oils or menthol since they revert congestion upon applying directly on chest.

DSC_0275_lowOur balm named Balsamo BeC, is very rich of typical terpenic balsamic components such as menthol and camphor along with the essential oils of Eucalyptus, Wintergreen and Peppermint. It provides beneficial effects and alleviate nasal congestion when applied by delicate massage on chest. The special blend of essential oils named Sinergia SA by BeC, used in hot steam aerosol represents a real decongestant help thanks to the high content of mint essential oil along with pure menthol for a synergic action in calming cough. Moreover, the balsamic blend of Mint, Chamomile, Lavender essential oils contribute to dilate bronchi. Among the precious blend of essential oils, Idrobagno I.U. is one of the most interesting product for the balsamic and vasotonic effect. Furthermore, the dermo-purifyng and anti-inflammatory action of Clove, Cypress and Lemon essential oils provide a pleasant freshness sensation when applied on head scalp and help to remove dandruff. Its antiseptic and regenerative properties is exploited also in hair care lotions by reinforcing scalp and providing a vivid and bright look to your hair.

We love scouting natural ingredient from Nature and skilfully blending them in special synergies that will became partner of your wellness.

[1] Mimica-Dukic and Bozin. Mentha L. Species (Lamiaceae) as Promising Sources of Bioactive Secondary Metabolites. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2008, 14, 3141-3150
[2] Kenia, P.; Houghton, T.; Beardsmore, C. Does inhaling menthol affect nasal patency or cough? Pediatr. Pulmonol. 2008, 43, 532-7.

Parfum analysis at BeC: not only essential oils

Flavors, essential oils and perfumes play a key role in appealing cosmetic consumers as commonly known by marketing experts.  “Olfactory memory” is an unconscious mechanism that influences learning process and is able to stimulate other senses. Until Second Industrial Revolution (1870) perfumes were only obtained from essential oils or natural extracts (from animal or vegetal origin), but the organic chemistry opened the way to new cheaper and more accessible synthetic molecules rather than natural perfumes. Nowadays, perfume companies utilize synthetic molecules and nature‑identical fragrances (endowed with a defined flavor) that make them easy to blend with essential oils to design more sophisticated fragrances.

oli_essenzialiPerfume factories usually holds expensive patents for their own blends so that they are allowed to indicate them in the list of ingredient (INCI) with the term “Fragrance / Parfum” without any legal obligation to specify chemical composition. While this position protects intellectual properties of perfume factories, it definitely allows to omit in ingredients list some regulated or banned substances (i.e. some preservatives, dyes and sunscreens) in spite of consumer safety. In order to primarily protect consumers, the European Parliament Directive 2003/15/CE identifies 26 fragrance allergens (found  mainly in perfumes)  that have to be indicated in mandatory way on label when they are beyond of a certain concentration. Moreover, the adoption of the European Regulation  (CE) n.1223/2009  implicate – for cosmetic products  and perfumes – the mandatory drafting of the Product Information File (PIF) with punctual information on toxicological data of each ingredient, substituting the outdated technical dossier.

The importance to operate serious qualitative control on fragrances stimulated many fragrance producers to test their products – for quality assurance and certification – in order to get all information for PIF drafting. Our analysts in BeC laboratories can perform a variety of tests to fulfill technical data:

  • Qualitative and quantitative analyses of essential oils and other volatile mixtures by gaschromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Qualitative and quantitative GC-MS analyses of allergens (Directive 2003/15/CE)
  • UV-VIS spectrophotometric analysis of color
  • Refractive index determination
  • Stability study to PAO (period after opening) evaluation
  • Accelerated aging with GC-MS qualitative and quantitative analysis

With this service, BeC makes available a more than thirty-year expertise in essential oil with the final aim to guarantee consumer safety and contribute to protect global health.