Once thought of as a “herbal medicine,” menthol is now recognised as an effective treatment therapy that helps relieve common cold symptoms.
Menthol, such as that found in Vicks VapoRub is a natural cooling ingredient found in plants, such as mint, and is most commonly recognised by its smell.1 Experiments with menthol were conducted as early as 1885, and it began to be recognised as a “drug with great usefulness”2– especially for treating symptoms of the common cold. As a result, menthol was no longer considered a “herbal medicine” but became a recognised drug therapy.1
Using menthol as part of a cold symptom treatment can help give the sensation of easier breathing and reduce coughing by interacting with cold receptors in the nose and throat. Studies have been conducted in which people were made to cough by being exposed to an irritating mist. Inhaling menthol prior to the exposure significantly reduced the number of times they coughed.2