From Michael Bush, our leading scientist at Young Living.
“It’s summer in Utah and it’s HOT! Did you know that peppermint oil on the skin can actually make you feel cooler? Here’s how it works: We all have an elaborate system of sensory nerves that can detect temperature changes. These sensory nerves are located all over your body. Within the membranes of these sensory nerves are protein molecules called “receptors”. These molecules have binding sites on them where molecules can bind. The binding sites have specific sizes and shapes which only allow molecules of similar size and shape to bind in them. It’s kind of like a key fitting into a lock. One of the receptors, called a TRP-M8 receptor, is located on the neurons responsible for detecting cold. For some unknown reason, menthol happens to fit into the TRP-M8 receptor’s binding site. When menthol binds at the receptor binding site, the receptor molecule changes shape, which triggers the nerve cell to send an electrical impulse (a nerve signal) to the brain. Since the brain knows this signal is coming from a “cold-detecting nerve”, the brain translates the signal into the feeling of coolness. Since menthol is the primary component of peppermint oil, we can actually use peppermint oil to “trick” our brains into feeling cooler, without ever actually changing the temperature. So Peppermint is pretty cool! (Pun intended)