The effect of menthol on cold allodynia in patients with neuropathic pain

Pain Med. 2008 Apr;9(3):354-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2007.00290.x.


Objective: Cutaneous application of menthol in healthy subjects induces cold allodynia via sensitization of cold-sensitive nociceptors. We investigated the effects of menthol on preexisting cold allodynia in patients to test whether the allodynia was exacerbated.

Design: In eight neuropathic pain patients (six of peripheral, two of central origin), 40% menthol was applied topically to an area of preexisting cold allodynia. Mirror-image skin areas and aged-matched healthy subjects served as controls in patients with unilateral and bilateral neuropathic pain, respectively. Prior to and after menthol, cold pain thresholds were measured using a thermotest device.

Results: Menthol induced significant cold allodynia in control areas. However, in neuropathic areas, results were more heterogeneous. Overall, preexisting cold allodynia was not aggravated by topical menthol and was attenuated in 6/8 patients.

Conclusions: These results suggest that, unlike in controls, menthol is not more hyperalgesic, but may be analgesic in some patients with peripheral and central neuropathic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cold Temperature*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperesthesia / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Menthol / administration & dosage
  • Menthol / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuralgia / drug therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Skin Temperature


  • Menthol