Can Menthol Improve Athletic Performance?

What is Menthol?

Menthol is a natural compound found in plants of the mint variety.  For the vast majority of people, menthol may merely be seen as the ingredient that provides the minty sensation in the toothpaste, mouthwash, gum and body wash that we use on a day-to-day basis. However, recent studies into the properties of menthol have found that it may potentially provide performance enhancing benefits in physical activity.

Can Menthol have an Impact on Athletic Performance –The Research:

Research into the effect that menthol can have on athletic performance has only really begun to pick up in recent years so there isn’t an abundance of studies that we can draw from. The studies that we do currently have however, show real signs of promise and will certainly provide a great basis for the study of menthol in the future.

There are two key properties of Menthol that contribute to its potential performance enhancing benefits, its cooling effect and its analgesic (pain relieving) properties.

In order to highlight the potential benefits of menthol use, I have chosen two studies that I think can help to provide you with some clarity about the effectiveness of this substance and explain why it has become a key ingredient in an array of products.

The first is a physiology and behaviour study that explored the benefits of external menthol application.  The study found that applying an 8% menthol gel to the face increased total work completed during a cycling time trial by 21%. The participants in this study reported they were more comfortable and felt cooler from the menthol.  A 21% increase in total work completed is an incredible improvement and, whilst there are likely to have been other factors that contributed to this, it is also safe to say that the utilisation of the menthol gel was a key contributing factor to this success.

Another study, conducted by Jeffries and Waldron (2019), explored the effects that menthol has on exercise performance and thermal sensation when it is applied both internally and externally on test subjects. The study found that the application of menthol improved overall exercise performance as well as finding that it reduces perceptual measures of thermal sensation – which essentially means that people weren’t feeling as hot when they exercise as they typically would.

Conclusion:

These studies help explain why menthol based products are increasingly finding their way into an athlete’s kit bag and people’s health and wellbeing routines in general.

Menthol crystals, available from pharmacies, are widely used in aromatherapy applications.  Menthol based gums and sweets are extremely popular for their cooling effect and mouth feel.  Body care products using menthol’s functional benefits are very popular with sportsmen and women.  Bullet & Bone’s Cooling Relief Freeze Gel is a menthol based gel which can be used after exercise to rapidly cool muscles to aid recovery and to relieve minor muscle and joint pain.

Lots of Body Washes and Shower Gels use Menthol as an ingredient because of its fresh, invigorating fragrance and its powerful cooling effect, Bullet & Bone’s Cooling Recovery Body Wash is a premium formula that cleanses and conditions the skin and uses Magnesium alongside Menthol so it designed specifically for muscle recovery.

I can’t promise you that the use of a menthol-based product will transform you into an Olympic level athlete but the research we currently have suggests that menthol can positively impact your athletic performance.