"There are a multitude of anecdotal references to a wide variety of uses and effects for peppermint in folklore and aromatherapy literature. We wanted to see how many of these claims have been substantiated by solid scientific research," said SOSI's executive director Theresa Molnar.
The review of existing scientific literature has found that numerous studies link the effects of peppermint to improved mental performance, cognitive functioning, pain threshold and tolerance, digestion and athletic performance.
"The administration of peppermint odour has played a dramatic role in promoting a greater quality of life for many individuals. Experimental evidence concerning the effects of peppermint continues to grow. Most likely a variety of new products will soon be marketed which capitalize on the all-natural, non-pharmaceutical properties of the ingredient," said the scientist responsible for the White Paper Dr Raudenbush.
A study on the effects of peppermint on athletic performance conducted by Raudenbush and his colleagues showed that the ingredient reduced perceived physical workload, temporal workload, effort and frustration. Participants also rated their level of vigor higher and level of fatigue lower in the peppermint condition.
The presence of peppermint was also found to improve mental ability with subjects making fewer errors and becoming more attentive.
"In addition, research will begin examining the effectiveness of peppermint-based analgesics for mild to moderate pain reactions. Peppermint produces a significant analgesic effect on sensitivity to headache and has a positive influence on pain threshold and increased overall tolerance of pain," said Raudenbush.
SOSI research also links the ingestion of peppermint with a positive effect on digestion and the digestive process.