The “natural athlete”: the essential oils as performance enhancers

montagne_simoI remember a speech by Prof. Gerhard Buchbauer (Dept of Clinical Pharmacy and diagnostics at Vienna University, Austria) held at Sana, the International exhibition of organic and natural products in 2008: in particular during his speech entitled “Aromatherapy: recent advances in scientific research” he showed human electroencephalograms evidencing increased activities of specific cerebral areas after inhalation of certain essential oils. In order to get in depth to the matter I found some Literature dealing with the ability of typical fragrances in helping cognitive functions and attenuating pain (i.e. Peppermint [1]), activating blood circulation, helping in lactic acid removal (i.e. camphor and Rosemary [2] ) or eliciting  potent antioxidant and anti inflammatory activities (i.e. Tea Tree, Lemon e Thyme [3] ). It seems clear that each essential oil is endowed with specific therapeutic properties and it is able to give different effects when inhalated or administered on the skin. As a matter of fact the essential oils can acts therapeutically by three distinct ways:
1.    Pharmacological – by causing real biochemical changes at cellular level
2.    Physiological – by acting to specific body systems
3.    Psychological – by stimulating an olfactive feedback
By first and second ways the essential oils biocomponents penetrate through epidermis [4] (or they are absorbed by digestive or respiratory systems) and reach organs and cells by blood circulation, in the third case they enter the organism by nasal flow.
ciclismoIn the same year I started to intensify my sport activity with cycling and I tried to better understand potential benefits elicited by essential oils and the possibility to improve my performances. For instance, does a “psycho-aromatic” influence exist on the athletes? It is fully recognized that mental wellness deeply influences sport performances therefore portable music players for music listening are prohibited in competitive marathons because are intended as “emotional doping”. For this reason, the act of simple smelling a specific essential oil or a blend of them could stimulate cognitive ability and give a good contribute to reach a top sport achievement.
One of the most important features for an aerobic endurance athlete (i.e. a marathon runner or a cyclist) is represented by risk of muscular damage associated to lactic acid production (cramps) [2] and to the oxidative stress caused by free radicals originated by prolonged efforts. The latter phenomenon is effectively counteracted by antioxidants which represent a potent solution to protect cells and the whole organism from negative effect caused by free radicals (tissue ageing, muscular pain, etc.).
Researchers at Tufts University (Boston, Massachusetts) have designed and validated the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity)  [5]  laboratory test to determine radical oxygen radical absorption by food and natural products and is nowadays recognized as one of the most widespread technique to measure antioxidant capacity.  By using this method, it is shown that the antioxidant power of essential oils is much higher than commonly believed antioxidant molecules or food such as Vitamin E, orange or lemon juice. Moreover, the pure essential oils – obtained by natural methods – are much more potent and effective in comparison to their single components (natural or synthetic molecule). For instance, the preservative ability of not-adulterated eucalyptus oil is higher compared to the main component eucalyptol [6].
trainingFor this reasons, scientific evidences showed the importance of essential oils for an athlete who  wants improve his performances in a natural way and I definitely chose Olio Strongful® by BeC as a strong partner before and after daily training: it has become fundamental  for me because its blend of diverse essential oils has been conveniently designed to gain the “winning synergy”.

Along with Olio Strongful, the dietary supplement PerforMax is particularily suitable for aerobic fitness such as marathon when good resistance is required. Olio Strongful and PerforMax represent optimal tools to reverse muscular deficit (with cramps and oxidative stress) associated to prolonged efforts. The subsequent free radicals overproduction is deeply counteracted by antioxidant activity of ingredients of our both products along with their precious essential oils.

Learn more information about Olio Strongful and PerforMax on BeC website.

[1] Fox M., Krueger E., Putterman L., Schroeder R. The Effect of Peppermint on Memory Performance.  Physiology 435, Spring 2012
[2] Diego MA, Jones NA, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C, McAdam V, Galamaga R, Galamaga M. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations Int J Neurosci. 1998 217-24.
[3] Ali B., Ali Al-Wabel N., Shams S., Ahamad A., Alam Khan S., Anwar F.. Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.  Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2015; 5(8): 601–611
[4] Gabbanini S., Lucchi E., Carli M., Berlini E. , Minghetti A., Valgimigli L.. In vitro evaluation of the permeation through reconstructed human epidermis of essentials oils from cosmetic formulations J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2009 Oct 15;50(3):370-6
[5] Bentayeb K, Vera P, Rubio C, Nerín C. The additive properties of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) assay: the case of essential oils. Food Chem. 2014 Apr 1;148:204-8.
[6] Tadtong S, Puengseangdee C, Prasertthanawut S, Hongratanaworakit T. Antimicrobial Constituents and Effects of Blended Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Patchouli, Pine, and Cajuput Essential Oils.Nat Prod Commun. 2016; 11, 267-70

Mint and menthol: how freshness ingredients work!

mentoloMenthol is one of the major components of mint essential oil: it has been used in therapy of respiratory disease to give relief to airways and provide a pleasant freshness sensation. For these reasons it is included in several over–the–counter medications. Only peppermint oil (Mentha  piperita L.) is described in the 8th European Pharmacopoeia despite the fact that different species of Mint are used in traditional medicine. Several benefits of Mint biocomponents are exploited in cosmetics, nutraceuticals and medicinal products. The majority of mint-based products are oral-care products (tooth paste, mouthwash) thanks to the antiseptic properties of mint actives and especially to the freshness sensation given to mouth and breath.

Which are the freshness ingredients in different mint species?

Different mint species and the corresponding essential oil varieties with their major compounds are shown in the following table. Each one is related to various olfactory notes and boasts different biological properties.

Table. Major compounds of mint essential oils from different Mint species[1].

Essential oil Mint species Main compounds
Peppermint oil Peppermint M.  piperita menthone, menthol
Spearmint oil,

Native type Scotch Spearmint oil

Spearmint M. spicata,

M.  viloso-nervata,

M.  gentilis nm. cardiaca

carvone, dihydrocarvone
Cornmint oil Cornmint M. arvensis var. piperascens menthol
Pennyroyal oil Pennyroyal M. pulegium pulegone
M. citrate oil Citrata M. citrata linaool, linalyl acetate

Menthol. How does it works?

Mentha piperita generally represents the most used species in health care products due to the high amount of menthol (30%) and menthone (20%). In particular, menthol gives a freshness sensation not only on the skin but also on mucosae because it interacts with thermo-receptors such as the cold and menthol receptor  (i.e.: TRPM8, transient receptor potential ion channels) that represents the molecular transducer of cold sensation when menthol  is inhalated or applied on skin. The activation of cold receptor originates several benefits:

  1. it increases the  patency of  airways (nasal flow)
  2. it reduces the sensation of dyspnoea
  3. at low concentration,  it acts against cough

These important properties are very useful when seasonal illnesses appear with symptoms like cold, nasal congestion and cough.  Some studies on menthol include also Eucalyptus essential oil and its major compound 1,8-cineol: along with menthol, it has important properties against cough.[2]  Menthol helps to clear respiratory tract acting as expectorant: it gives temporary relief to upper airways and alleviates symptoms such as nasal congestion, sinusitis, cold and cough. Several expectorant balms contain a moderate percentage of mint essential oils or menthol since they revert congestion upon applying directly on chest.

DSC_0275_lowOur balm named Balsamo BeC, is very rich of typical terpenic balsamic components such as menthol and camphor along with the essential oils of Eucalyptus, Wintergreen and Peppermint. It provides beneficial effects and alleviate nasal congestion when applied by delicate massage on chest. The special blend of essential oils named Sinergia SA by BeC, used in hot steam aerosol represents a real decongestant help thanks to the high content of mint essential oil along with pure menthol for a synergic action in calming cough. Moreover, the balsamic blend of Mint, Chamomile, Lavender essential oils contribute to dilate bronchi. Among the precious blend of essential oils, Idrobagno I.U. is one of the most interesting product for the balsamic and vasotonic effect. Furthermore, the dermo-purifyng and anti-inflammatory action of Clove, Cypress and Lemon essential oils provide a pleasant freshness sensation when applied on head scalp and help to remove dandruff. Its antiseptic and regenerative properties is exploited also in hair care lotions by reinforcing scalp and providing a vivid and bright look to your hair.

We love scouting natural ingredient from Nature and skilfully blending them in special synergies that will became partner of your wellness.

[1] Mimica-Dukic and Bozin. Mentha L. Species (Lamiaceae) as Promising Sources of Bioactive Secondary Metabolites. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2008, 14, 3141-3150
[2] Kenia, P.; Houghton, T.; Beardsmore, C. Does inhaling menthol affect nasal patency or cough? Pediatr. Pulmonol. 2008, 43, 532-7.