Menthol candies will make it easier to race in the heat

The heroine of today’s story is a peppermint. Only not that sweet, slightly minty candy familiar from childhood, but hellish menthol green with a white plus sign. Because we are interested in the presence of menthol.

How does menthol work?

L-menthol (the most active form) acts on sensory nerve endings in the skin and mucous membranes, causing a sensation of coldness and reducing the sensation of pain.

In addition to the cooling effect, menthol indirectly promotes the production of many biologically active substances – endorphins, enkephalins, and histamine, which reduce pain sensitivity, normalize vascular permeability, and, therefore, improve the supply of nutrients to fabrics.

During resorption, the cold receptors in the oral cavity are stimulated, which leads to a reflex expansion of the coronary vessels and thus improves the blood supply to the heart.

In official medicine, menthol is part of Validol tablets, which are used for mild angina (passing heart pain).

Research is ongoing with different forms of menthol: mouth spray, menthol drinks, skin ointments or sprays, and even menthol baths. In most cases, a 0.01% menthol solution is used.

Overall, studies show little benefit for all menthol products. Most pronounced for sprays and drinks: 3-9% improvement in test or exercise bike results.

Unfortunately, all research focuses on the cooling properties of menthol. Cardiac blood flow and vascular permeability have not been studied. Certain conclusions about the effectiveness of menthol here can only be drawn based on many years of effective use of validol in medicine.

why it works

Menthol, especially when used sublingually (under the tongue), reflexively improves blood supply to the heart muscle. This allows the heart to pump more blood for longer, improving exercise tolerance.

During active work, body temperature tends to rise. Menthol in a drink or mouth spray (which is similar to candy) improves tolerance to heat by stimulating cold receptors and facilitating the subjective perception of temperature. The same goes for loads in hot climates.

In case of muscle pain caused by overwork or injury, menthol ointments will help improve the well-being and performance of the muscles. In addition, menthol begins to act faster than applications with ice, but its action quickly stops. That is, for maximum effect, you must first smear with ointment containing menthol, wait 5 minutes and apply an ice compress.

Why it does not work

According to the study, the effect of menthol is more psychological than physiological. Body temperature and heart rate with the use of menthol change slightly compared to placebo. However, the improvement in well-being is sufficient for the results of the running or the tests on the stationary bike to improve.

How to apply

  • According to most studies, the best results are obtained by using menthol mouth spray (which can be compared to candy) and menthol drinks.
  • To improve running performance, menthol products should be consumed after the onset of subjective feelings of fatigue or heat.
  • If you run in the hot season, cold mint drinks are more effective than simple iced drinks.
  • With muscle pain caused by overtraining, menthol ointments will help to quickly eliminate pain and restore strength.
  • There is no point in consuming cold drinks or menthol foods before a workout.

Precautions required

Remember that the effect of menthol is largely psychological: the actual temperature does not change, but subjectively it is perceived as more comfortable.

When running (or performing any exercise) in a hot climate and at the same time actively using products containing menthol, you may not notice a critical increase in body temperature and overheat to the point of heatstroke.

Also, do not replace candies or sprays with validol tablets. It is a drug, and the dose of menthol it contains is higher than that used in studies and has shown an improvement in performance without negative consequences (0.06 g in 1 tablet of validol against 150 ml of 0.01% solution (0.015 g per dose) or 25 ml of 0.01% spray (0.0025 g per dose) In addition, in addition to menthol, validol contains a mild sedative – the isovaleric acid, and we certainly don’t need its effects during exercise.

If you are interested in more detailed information, here is an analysis of all menthol publications as of August 2018.

Good luck to all and may the mint be with you!