Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in an endless cycle of coffee to power through your busy schedule? Or perhaps energy drinks are more your thing.
Hey, we’ve all been there, although I would venture to guess that, for many of us, our level of caffeine consumption (or our drink of choice) borders on unhealthy.
If you’re looking for an alternative to caffeine to pick you up during that mid-afternoon slump, help you burn the midnight oil, or even improve physical performance, you may want to give peppermint oil a try.
Studies on Peppermint Oil and Alertness
A study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine examined the effect of peppermint ingestion on exercise performance after five minutes and one hour. Thirty healthy male college studies were divided, at random, into experimental and control groups. The experimental group was then given a single dose of peppermint oil orally and measurements were taken of their performance.
Researchers saw significant improvements in all the tests after the subjects ingested the oil, including grip strength, standing vertical jump and standing long jump. But the benefits didn’t stop there. The experimental group also saw an increase in the amount of air exhaled from the lungs, the breathing flow rate, and exhaling flow rate.
But studies indicate that ingesting peppermint oil is NOT necessary to benefit from its energy-boosting benefits.
Another study, published in 2017, examined whether the fragrance of essential oils can help alleviate the fatigue caused by exercise.
In this study, 48 male rats were randomly divided into a control group, a fatigue group, an essential oil mixture group, and a peppermint oil group. Loaded swimming to exhaustion was used as the fatigue model. Two groups were nebulized with the essential oils after swimming while the others with distilled water.
An increased time to exhaustion was apparent in both groups that used essential oils and the results suggested that inhaling an essential oil mixture can powerfully relieve exercised-induced fatigue.
And if these studies aren’t enough to convince you, Digital Journal reports that, “according to a recent study, peppermint oil can improve an athlete’s running performance, respiratory function, blood pressure, and heart rate. Participants in the study consumed .05 mL of peppermint oil in their water before exercise and were able to run a quarter mile further than they could without the oil. Athletes also performed higher on tests just by smelling peppermint oil. Gains were documented in cardiovascular and strength tasks such as running, handgrip strength, and push-ups.”
Why does Peppermint Make Your More Alert?
While most people are familiar with the candy peppermints, especially during the holiday season, research, as you’ve seen, shows that ingesting or inhaling peppermint, or even applying the oil to your skin, are the all effective methods for boosting alertness.
And it’s actually the scent of peppermint that’s key.
The scent stimulates the hippocampus area of the brain, the area that controls mental clarity and memory, particularly long-term memory. Basically, the aroma of peppermint - primarily the menthol component - triggers you to wake up and pay attention.
The oil is actually being increasingly used in college settings to promote alertness
The University of Cincinnati, for example, found that diffusing peppermint in a room of test-takers boosted alertness and focus. Wheeling Jesuit University found that exposing drivers to peppermint made them more alert, less tired, more motivated and less irritable.
While you may be skeptical that an oil can actually help you stay awake and be more alert, study after study has demonstrated that peppermint oil can trigger your brain to wake up and be more alert, improving your ability to focus and perform better athletically.
So the next time you catch yourself reaching for that afternoon energy drink or diet soda, maybe plug an all-natural peppermint oil into the wall instead. You may find that you’re able to find the mental clarity and focus you’re looking for, without the extra caffeine.