Inhalation of menthol, camphor, eucalyptus and other herbal products have been used to treat various health problems for over a thousand years. Patents exist from over one hundred years ago disclosing devices for inhaling these vapours through various oral smoking pipes and even cylindrical inhalers containing menthol and other active herbal vapours delivered through nasal inhalation. One of the the earliest method of delivery of these vapors aside from smoking, was through placing herbs in a bowl of hot water and placing face over bowl to inhale the vapors given off. Menthol and eucalyptus oils are ingredients used in the majority of cough drops currently marketed with about 10mg of menthol per tablet which presents the distinctive aroma and cooling effect of menthol albeit at low concentrations in the nasal vestibules.
Rubbing mentholated salve onto the skin to present vapors can cause skin irritation and the concentration of the vapors presented for inhalation would be very low.
Over the past ten years medical research has produced a much better understanding of how menthol and other aromatic herbal substances have such a broad and beneficial effect. More details are contained in the RESEARCH PAGE, but simply put menthol acts as an activator (agonist) on the TRPM8 receptors present in respiratory passages and send signals to the human cortex where these signals are interpreted and result in a variety of changes in the individual’s feelings of nasal patency. It feels like you are breathing much more freely and have less of a stuffy feeling in your nose.
The concentration of the menthol and other TRPM8 agonists and the duration of exposure to those vapors are limited by the means of generation and presentation to the respiratory passages. Vapors from a bowl of hot water are very concentrated as menthol is not water soluble and of course exposure time is limited. Vapors from a cylindrical nasal inhaler are also limited in terms of duration of exposure and concentration of the active agonists inside the cylinders is often not well controlled. A vaporizer using heat or blowing air into a room is very difficult to control the concentration of vapor from the various agonists and the pungent aroma can be annoying to others.
We were very surprised to find no device or method available now or historically which presented vapours directly under the nose where these TRPM8 agonists could be present for a longer duration. Holding a soft air permeable fabric container under the nose will raise the temperature of the fabric and any volatile substances therein to 35C and thus present more vapors when worn than coming from a 22C room temperature surface. Seems to be a much more elegant means of providing vapors directly into the nasal vestibules where there are large numbers of TRPM8 receptors present. The elastic straps make it easy to move the container down out of the way if you need to sneeze or clear dripping nose.
Principle use will likely be to relieve symptoms of blocked nasal passages but the antitussive (cough) relief as well as providing some relief from the sensation of air hunger could become more significant as patients become familiar with this means of inhaling these vapors.