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

D. Jason Gillis, Neil Weston, James R. House, Michael J. Tipton

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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 (M0.05%; n = 8), and 0.2% l-menthol (M0.2%; 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. M0.2% 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 M0.05%. 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-518
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Early online date5 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015


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