Peppermint for Performance

Section: alternatives

natural healer

Just a whiff boosts motivation and mood

* WHAT IT IS The refreshing, frosty blast of peppermint (Mentha piperita) makes this garden perennial a popular flavoring--in 1996, more than 4,000 tons of peppermint oil were added to mints, gum, toothpaste, and other products.
* WHAT FOLK MEDICINE SAYS The Cherokees used peppermint for upset stomach, colic, and gas.
* WHAT WE KNOW Peppermint has been shown to relieve indigestion and bloating due to excess gas; its essential oil eases irritable bowel syndrome.
* WHAT NEW RESEARCH SHOWS Fifteen male and 14 female Division II college basketball players were given peppermint inhalers and asked to note how frequently they used them during regular-season games and practices. The most frequent users reported increased motivation, energy, speed, alertness, confidence, and strength. What's more, the athletes believed that using the inhalers enhanced their competitive edge, which could theoretically help them win games. However, peppermint did nothing to improve their basketball skills, such as sinking free throws, notes study author Bryan Raudenbush, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Wheeling Jesuit University. He suggests that peppermint scent influences mood and motivation, not ability, so it offers a mental, rather than a physical, boost.
* WHAT TO USE Buy a Peak Performance Sports Inhaler for $2.99 at most GNC stores; go to for other sources. Or sprinkle a few drops of pure peppermint essential oil onto a hankie and inhale.

PHOTO (COLOR): Get up for the game


By Sara Altshul

Share this with your friends