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The effects of menthol on exercise performance and thermal sensation: a meta-analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Owen JeffriesORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


ObjectivesMenthol is an organic compound with non-thermal cooling properties that has been shown to relieve thermal strain associated with exercise in the heat; however, its effects on performance have not been systematically analysed. The aims were to determine the effects of menthol applied (1) internally and (2) externally on exercise performance and thermal sensation.DesignMeta-analysisMethodsA search was performed using various databases in August 2018. The studies were screened using search criteria for eligibility. Thirteen peer-reviewed articles were identified for inclusion in a primary analysis on the effect of menthol on exercise performance; subsequently eleven of these articles were included in a secondary analysis on the effect of menthol on thermal sensation during exercise. A sub-analysis examining the application method was also performed.ResultsMenthol improved overall exercise performance (Hedges’ g = 0.33, 95% CI −0.00, 0.65 P = 0.05), demonstrating greater effects when applied internally (Hedges’ g = 0.40, 95% CI 0.04, 0.76, P = 0.03). Thermal sensation was also lowered overall across all studies (Hedges’ g = −0.54, 95% CI −0.67, −0.42, P < 0.001).ConclusionsExercise performance can be improved by application of non-thermally cooling menthol, which also reduces perceptual measures of thermal sensation. Internal application appears to be the best strategy to improve performance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jeffries O, Waldron M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport

Year: 2019

Volume: 22

Issue: 6

Pages: 707-715

Print publication date: 01/06/2019

Online publication date: 06/12/2018

Acceptance date: 02/12/2018

Date deposited: 07/12/2018

ISSN (print): 1440-2440

ISSN (electronic): 1878-1861

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.12.002


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