Peppermint essential oil may help enhance numerous aspects of athletic performance, a study reports.
Athletic performance, also called exercise performance, describes an individual's ability to use various muscles to stay physically fit. Exercise is any form of physical activity that helps to promote overall health. Most movement of the body is considered beneficial, as long as it is done in moderation and at the skill level of the person. There are many ways for people to exercise including gardening, walking, sports activities, and dancing. An individual's athletic performance can be measured in terms of cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and exercise capacity.
Peppermint has been studied for enhancing athletic performance. Peppermint is a flowering plant that grows throughout Europe and North America and is widely cultivated for its fragrant oil. Peppermint oil has been used historically for numerous health conditions, including common cold symptoms, cramps, headache, indigestion, joint pain, and nausea. Peppermint leaf has been used for stomach or intestinal disorders and for gallbladder disease. Peppermint oil is available in bulk herb oil, enteric-coated capsules, soft gelatin capsules, and in liquid form. In small doses, such as in tea or chewing gum, peppermint is generally believed to be safe in healthy, non-pregnant, non-allergic adults. The United States is a principal producer of peppermint, and the largest markets for peppermint oil are manufacturers of chewing gum, toothpaste, mouthwash, and pharmaceuticals.
In the current study, researchers recruited 12 healthy male athletes who consumed 500 milliliters of mineral water containing 0.05 milliliters of peppermint essential oil daily for ten days. The team measured the subjects' blood pressure, heart rate, and airflow before and after the supplementation period. The athletes performed a treadmill-based exercise test during the course of the study.
The results suggested that peppermint essential oil induced significant changes in air flow, power, and time to exhaustion.
The authors concluded that the study appears to support the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil on the exercise performance of young male athletes. However, more research is needed to better understand and confirm these findings.
Among the many herbs and supplements studied for exercise enhancement are creatine and caffeine, both of which are backed by strong scientific evidence for this purpose.
For more information about peppermint oil, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements database.