Influence of repeated daily menthol exposure on human temperature regulation and perception

Physiol Behav. 2015 Feb;139:511-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.12.009. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


A single exposure to menthol can, depending on concentration, enhance both cool sensations and encourage body heat storage. This study tested whether there is an habituation in either response after repeated-daily exposures. Twenty-two participants were assigned to one of three spray groups: Control (CON; n=6), 0.05% L-menthol (M(0.05%); n=8), and 0.2% L-menthol (M(0.2%); n=8). On Monday (20°C, 50% rh) participants were sprayed with 100 mL of solution and undertook 40 min of cycling at 45% of their peak power (Ex1), from Tuesday to Thursday (30°C, 50% rh) they were sprayed twice daily whilst resting (R1 to R6), Friday was a repeat of Monday (Ex2). Thermal sensation (TS), thermal comfort, perceived exertion, irritation, rectal and skin temperature (Tsk), skin blood flow (SkBF) and sweat rate were monitored. A two-way ANOVA (alpha=0.05) compared responses from the beginning (Ex1, R1) and end (Ex2, R5) of the testing week. M(0.2%) induced significantly (P<0.05) cooler TS at the beginning of the week (Ex1, R1) compared to the end (Ex2, R5), indicating habituation of TS; this was not observed in M(0.05%). No other perceptual or physiological responses habituated. 0.2% Menthol caused a heat storage response, mediated by vasoconstriction, at the beginning and end of the week, suggesting the habituation of TS occurred in a pathway specific to sensation. In summary, the cooling influence of 0.2% menthol habituates after repeated-daily exposures, but with no habituation in heat storage.

Keywords: Cold receptor TRPM8; Habituation; Menthol; Perception; Thermoregulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects*
  • Body Temperature Regulation / physiology*
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Menthol / administration & dosage*
  • Perception / drug effects*
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Regional Blood Flow / drug effects
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Sweating / drug effects
  • Sweating / physiology
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / administration & dosage
  • Water / administration & dosage
  • Young Adult


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Water
  • Menthol