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Better heat tolerance and higher athletic performance thanks to menthol?

Menthol occurs naturally in the essential oil of peppermint plants and evokes a cooling sensation of freshness in the mouth and nose. This is because TRPM8 receptors on nerve cells transmit a «cooling stimulus» to the trigeminal nerve in the brain when menthol is ingested. It is known from respiratory medicine that menthol not only causes a cold sensation in the mouth, but can also protect the body from heat sensation.

Effect of menthol and peppermint in sports
Studies have shown that menthol-containing products have a valuable effect, especially in endurance sports lasting from 20 minutes to over an hour (1). Taken shortly before fatigue, they can help to delay the time of exhaustion (2). Athletes report reduced heat perception and deeper perceived exertion in the studies (3). The bottom line is that the cooling effect of menthol and peppermint can lead to better performance. The recommended dose was quantified by the scientists as a menthol concentration of 0.01-0.1%, taken as a drinking solution (4).

Menthol products from SPONSER
With COMPETITION COOL MINT, SPONSER® offers an acid-free, mildly flavoured, highly compatible sports drink with menthol, which is intended to provide this «cooling effect» as mentioned. It was developed especially for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. COMPETITION COOL MINT is vegan, free of lactose, gluten and artificial additives. Available as a powder in a 1000 g can, to be mixed with water.

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1) Gavel, H.G. et al. (2021): Menthol Mouth Rinsing Is More Than Just a Mouth Wash – Swilling of Menthol to Improve Physiological Performance, in: Front. Nutr. 2021 Jul;8:691-695.
2) Jeffries, O. et al. (2018): L-Menthol mouth rinse or ice slurry ingestion during the latter stages of exercise in the heat provide a novel stimulus to enhance performance despite elevation in mean body temperature, in: Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Nov;118(11):2435-2442.
3) Stevens, C. J./Best, R. (2017): Menthol: a fresh ergogenic aid for athletic performance, in: Sports Med. 2017 Jun;47(6):1035-1042.
4) Best, R. et al. (2018): The Development of a Menthol Solution for Use during Sport and Exercise, in: Beverages 2018, 4(2), 44.

Author: Remo Jutzeler
Ing. Applied Food Sciences UAS
MAS Nutrition & Health ETHZ