Traditional therapies in China once called upon the use of mint oil for sprains, joint pains and inflammation. The philosopher Hippocrates also treated these ailments by "cooling" the skin. A new study by the University of Edinburgh (England) suggests these ancient remedies still have a positive effect on these same symptoms.
The study found that mint oil and other related chemical compounds act through a recently discovered protein which is capable of binding with these chemicals and is found in a small percentage of nerve cells in the human skin. This new/old treatment uses the body's own mechanisms to help ease pain.
The use of these compounds is likely to have minimal toxic side effects since they are applied to the skin and not ingested. They could therefore be ideal for chronic pain patients who do not benefit from conventional pain killers. Of course, talk to your doctor before trying any over-the-counter remedies, be they medications or natural products, to avoid potential interactions or side effects. For more information on some other members of the mint family and their benefits, visit www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/scullcap.html and www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/leonorus.html.
Proudfoot C, Garry E, Cottrell D, et al. Analgesia mediated by the TRPM8 cold receptor in chronic neuropathic pain. Current Biology, August 22, 2006;16(16):1591-1605.