Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sweet minty relief for cough

Date:
June 11, 2012
Source:
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Summary:
New findings suggest that sucrose and menthol, ingredients commonly regarded as flavorings in cough drops or syrup, each act independently to reduce coughing. Implications range from medicinal to tobacco products.

Peppermint. Sugar and menthol each act independently to reduce coughing.
Credit: © Dionisvera / Fotolia

Millions of Americans reach for their cough drops or syrup at the first sign of a cough. However, scientists are unsure if and how these popular remedies work. Now, new findings from the Monell Center suggest that sucrose and menthol, ingredients commonly regarded as flavorings in these preparations, each act independently to reduce coughing.

Related Articles


Cough is a vital protective reflex that clears the respiratory tract of threats from mechanical stimuli like food and chemical stimuli such as airborne toxins and pollutants. As such, cough is necessary to protect the lungs, keep airways clear, and preserve life.

"Individuals with a weak cough reflex are at increased risk of pneumonia and of choking. Conversely, many acute and chronic conditions involve frequent coughing, leading to 30 million health care visits annually, with billions spent on over-the-counter medications and billions more lost due to reduced productivity," said lead author, Paul M. Wise, Ph.D., a sensory psychologist at Monell.

However, many aspects of coughing remain poorly understood, including how chemicals act to trigger and modulate cough.

In the current study, which appears in the June 2012 issue of Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 12 healthy young adults inhaled from a nebulizer containing capsaicin, the burning ingredient in chili peppers and a potent chemical stimulus for cough. After each inhalation, the amount of capsaicin was doubled. This procedure continued until the subject coughed three times within 10 seconds. The capsaicin concentration that induced the three coughs was labeled as the individual's cough threshold.

In some sessions, the subjects held either a very sweet sucrose or plain water in their mouths for three seconds, spat the liquid into a sink, and then inhaled from the nebulizer.

In other sessions, subjects inhaled three breaths of either menthol-saturated air or clean air before each capsaicin inhalation. The menthol concentration was selected to approximate the cooling intensity of a menthol cigarette.

Both sucrose and menthol increased the amount of capsaicin needed to elicit a cough relative to plain water or clean air, respectively. Sucrose increased cough threshold by about 45 percent, while menthol increased it by approximately 25 percent.

"This is the first study to empirically show that sweet taste reduces cough. This also is the first study to show that menthol alone can reduce coughing in response to a cough-eliciting agent," said Monell sensory scientist Paul Breslin, Ph.D., an author on the study.

The findings support the hypothesis that adding menthol to cigarettes, popularly known as "menthols," may make it easier to begin smoking by suppressing the cough reflex, thus making the first cigarettes less distressing.

"Menthol may dull the sensitivity of sensory nerves in the airways and thereby actually disable an important reflex mechanism that would otherwise protect smokers from the chemical and particulate irritants present in cigarette smoke," said Wise.

Studies at Monell will continue to explore the chemical elicitation of cough, along with the receptors and genes involved in this system.

Also contributing to the research was Pamela Dalton, Ph.D., of Monell. Breslin also holds a position as professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. Funding was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monell Chemical Senses Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul M. Wise, Paul A.S. Breslin, Pamela Dalton. Sweet taste and menthol increase cough reflex thresholds. Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2012; 25 (3): 236 DOI: 10.1016/j.pupt.2012.03.005

Cite This Page:

Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Sweet minty relief for cough." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611152848.htm>.
Monell Chemical Senses Center. (2012, June 11). Sweet minty relief for cough. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611152848.htm
Monell Chemical Senses Center. "Sweet minty relief for cough." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611152848.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins