Background image of actual menthol crystals.

Raves, Ecstasy and Menthol

Always Under

Raves are high energy, all night dance parties attended by hundreds to even thousands of teens and people in their twenties. They originated in England and were traditionally held in large warehouses or open outdoor area and later moved to established clubs. In the late 1980s, the Raves migrated to the United States and in the 1990s the popularity increased and they were firmly established as a subculture.

Mood altering drugs have invaded the Rave scene. The so-called club drug most commonly associated with Raves is MDMA (Ecstasy, XTC, X, E, Euphoric, Adam, Clarity, Lover's Speed, Love Dove, Hug Drug). MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine), is a Schedule I synthetic, psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. MDMA possesses chemical variations of the stimulant amphetamine or methamphetamine and a hallucinogen, most often mescaline. Ravers usually take Ecstasy orally in pill or tablet form.

Some of the negative effects and dangers of MDMA include: effects start within 20-40 minutes, last 4-6 hours; produces hallucinogenic effects; chills, fainting, paranoia, depression, muscle tension - all may be observed/experienced; can reduce serotonin levels in the brain by 90% for at least 2-weeks (Serotonin affects thinking processes, regulates mood, affects sleeping and eating habits, moderates aggressive behavior, affects sexual function and sensitivity to pain).; sense of well being usually enhanced, though may alter be depressed; users often have the urge to rub their skin, grind their teeth often use baby pacifiers to prevent this (drug effects may persist); jaw thrusting is common, inciting more tooth-grinding; and users often hug each other and massage each other's bodies as this intensifies the (artificial) high and adverse effects of the drug.

Typical paraphernalia associated with MDMA use are suckers or infant pacifiers to reduce teeth grinding that may occur, luminescent neon glowsticks used to enhance visual stimulation and dust or surgical masks smeared with menthol containing ointments to concentrate the inhalation of the menthol vapors.

One Raver has indicated that he has never been at a party where there was not a room full of E-tards camped on the floor rubbing menthol ointment on each other.

We are interested in developing an understanding of why Menthol has become so popular amongst Ravers taking Ecstasy and the mechanism of action involved.

The typical comment is that the inhalation of the cool menthol fumes heightens the drug experience. It was discovered by Ravers to be a way to strongly intensify the effect especially the euphoria experienced of Ecstasy. Many Ravers rub the gel (e.g, Vicks VapoRub) directly underneath their nose and eyes and breath in the menthol fumes. Others to further concentrate the fumes will use dust or surgical masks smearing the mask ...

Other Ravers have indicated that the menthol helps them breath easier. Brandon, a Raver, thinks the menthol is best when he's rolling (already experiencing the effects of Ecstasy). It opens up your sinuses (nasal passages) and it feels all tingly

A 19 year old college student indicated that a smoker smoking feels good with Ecstasy. He advises to smoke menthol cigarettes while on Ecstasy because it feels amazing but be careful it is easy to smoke too much. Another person commented that smoking menthol cigarettes feels so good when you're on Ecstasy (especially Newports). This person claimed they smoked so much that night that they had dark green loogies (mucous from the nose). Other forms of menthol used include lozenges and inhalers..

Another Raver has mentioned that its better to smell the menthol instead of sweaty bodies. Also, it has been mentioned that menthol may add an olfactory dimension to the experience.

Dehydration, hyperthermia and heart or kidney failure may result from the combination of Ecstasy and menthol containing products. .

A number of factors probably come into play in trying to understannd the mechanism of action of menthol. A subjective feeling of greater airflow to the lungs may be experienced. The cool sensation that may occur from using menthol can result in reflex breath holding that may increase the uptake of the contents of the alveolar region of the lungs including oxygen.


Eccles R, Menthol and Related Cooling Compounds, J. Pharm.Pharmacol. 618-630, 1994.

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