WJU Looks to Peppermint, Its Effect on Athletic Performance
WHEELING — Rugby players have a reputation for being tough, but those at Wheeling Jesuit University now smell of peppermint when they take the field.
The WJU rugby team has been using peppermint infused mouth guards provided them as part of research being conducted at the school, and the results indicate the scent does improve athletic performance.
Wheeling Jesuit University psychology professor Bryan Raudenbush and athletic training major Juan Pablo Troconis Bello, studied the performance of 18 rugby players over a two-month period late last year. During the first month, players used the peppermint mouth guards. Then the second month they used the traditional unscented, unflavored mouth piece.
When the study was completed, each of the players was asked a series of questions ” to measure and assess mood, workload, motivation and competitive edge,” according to Raudenbush.
He said the use of a peppermint flavored mouth guard led the athletes to believe they had a greater sense of safety, were more energized and motivated, and had “a greater performance during games or practice.”
Raudenbush has been researching the effects of scent on athletic performance for more than 20 years, since he was a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati.
“We started out utilizing particular scents that our athletes would inhale,” he said. “Then we looked for different ways of delivering it, with this being our newest way.”
Raudenbush keeps a dish of peppermint gums and candies in his office, and nearby is a closet full of vials of scented oils he calls his “library closet.”
WJU athletes have utilized scented inhalers over the years, as well flavored and scented gums and lozenges.
Peppermint-scented bottles of air were also have been provided to them to spray in their mouths.
“Each sport has its own unique issues,” Raudenbush said. “This is good for rugby, because they use mouth pieces. When we did it with our swimmers, they needed something to spray in the mouth because they breathe through the mouth when they are swimming. With our other sports, it was easier to put it through the nose.”
Rugby, basketball, golf and swimming athletes all have participated in the studies, and different scents have been used. The athletes consistently attribute the peppermint scent for improvements in their performance.
The peppermint mouth guards, purchased from Mogosports, likely will be provided to those in other field sports.
“With athletic performance, peppermint is the best one,” Raudenbush said. “There are other scents that will do other things, like distract you from pain — and cinnamon is good for that.
To help you to relax, that would be jasmine and lavender.
“There are different scents for different tasks.”
Those who prefer the scents of vanilla and lemon say the smell makes them feel “more healthy,” according to Raudenbush.
And he said the scene of jasmine near the bed can result in a better night’s sleep.
“The people who used it don’t sleep longer, but they wake up feeling more rested,” he said.