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Man applying menthol cream


Menthol, a compound in peppermint that gives peppermint its distinct flavor and cooling sensation, is commonly used in topical creams and gels for pain relief from muscle tenderness and soreness, osteoarthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. When applied to the skin as a cream or gel, such as Biofreeze, menthol creates a cooling effect by activating and then desensitizing receptors in the skin that sense cold, which is believed to temporarily distract a person from underlying pain (Pergolizzi Jr., J Clin Pharm Ther 2018). However, placebo-controlled studies have cast doubt on benefits found in smaller studies.

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