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Menthol: Nature’s Pain Reliever By Haidita Celestine I

n Natural History, published in AD 77 to AD 79, Pliny the Elder

identified over 60 medici- nal applications for mint. Chewed and applied topically, he reported that mint leaves were useful as a remedy for elephantiasis, lumbago, gout, scrofula, head-ache, all erup- tions of the head, and mala- dies of the rectum. He claims that the very smell alone reanimates the spirits and, if bound into a crown around the head,

it stimulates the

mind and soul. As a juice, it will prevent the recurrence of lascivious dreams – although he points out that others believe exactly the opposite on this point. At Humn Pharmaceuti-

cals, we don’t expect that all of these claims would be proven by today’s standards of scientific rigor; but clearly opinion leaders have recog- nized the medicinal value of mint for millennia. Menthol is an organic

compound that occurs natu- rally in the leaves of the genus ‘Mentha’ plant family, more commonly known as mint and peppermint plants. Whether extracted from the leaves by distillation or made synthetically, the remarkable health benefits of menthol cannot be denied. TPR20 Pain Relief Cream combines

menthol with the well-known benefits of the local analgesic Lidocaine to create a truly remarkable pain relief product. Rowan Hamilton, research director of Humn Pharmaceuticals of Winnipeg states that, “the major reason for the success of TPR20 is the combi- nation of these two active ingredients working together. However menthol, although commonly used, is often not fully understood by those who use it. Nor is its role in complementing the pain reducing characteristics of other compounds.” As new research develops, menthol

is increasingly recognized as one of nature’s most effective pain reliev- ers. But just how does this compound tackle pain? The actual pain relief

12 • Beautiful Gardens 2014 Menthol occurs naturally in the leaves of mint.

occurs by a remarkable activation of the same analgesic system through which opiates work; but with no hint of the complications that opiates typically cause. When menthol is applied topi- cally, ‘ligand’ molecules attach to the body’s cell receptors. This changes the perception of pain; the intensity of the body’s biochemical response is reduced. Menthol also triggers the process

of vasodilation or the widening of blood vessels. In addition to increas- ing blood flow to the affected area, the skins barrier function is reduced. This process enhances the absorption of not only the menthol but also the accom- panying Lidocaine in TPR20, bringing an immediate feeling of relief. Inflammation is also a target of menthol. Anyone suffering


muscle aches and pains can attest to the discomfort that the accompany- ing inflammation causes. Menthol brings immediate relief in both large and small inflammatory conditions by delivering a cooling sensation to the

affected area. It stimulates thermoreceptors in the skin cells, which help our bodies recognize changes in temper- ature. A signal is sent when the menthol is applied which the brain interprets as cold, thus relieving the uncom- fortable inflamed sensation. Menthol is also regarded

as a counter irritant. Coun- ter irritants relieve pain by a unique action on the nerves. By creating a small local irritation they counteract the mechanism of the small nerve fibers in the gateway of pain. The gate control theory used to describe the mechanism of pain was first described by Ron Melzack in 1968. He proposed that pain is activated by the smaller fibers through the nerves that lead to the central nervous system. When these are triggered, the signal trav- els to the brain. The brain, in turn, sends back a signal of pain through the outward transmitting nerves. That is when you feel the pain. Counter irritants such as

menthol mask the local pain transmis- sion so the central nervous system does not get involved. However the doses required to create

this counter irritant effect can push menthol products towards a danger- ous reaction. The FDA has warned of potential chemical burns associated with menthol at concentrations greater than three per cent. It is for this reason that Humn Pharmaceuticals uses one per cent of menthol in TPR20: to real- ize the pain relieving, vasodilation and anti-inflammatory benefits without the counter irritation role. The combination of Lidocaine and

menthol in TPR20 ensures that the ‘whole is greater than the sum of the parts.’ Two analgesic compounds, each working on important elements of pain relief, complement each other and create the unique benefit and versatility of TPR20. We won’t claim though that TPR20 will help manage your dreams, unless of course you are dreaming of pain relief. P

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