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Crystalline organic compound of the isoprenoid family. It has a strong, minty, cooling odour and taste. It is obtained from the oil of the Japanese mint or made synthetically and is used in cigarettes, cosmetics, chest rubs, cough drops, toothpastes, and flavourings. Of its two optical isomers (seeoptical activity; isomerism), only l-menthol has the desirable cooling effect.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on menthol, visit Britannica.com.