Sunday, March 2, 2014

Peppermint Power!

After running my marathon in San Francisco last fall, I realized I needed a fix.  The same thing kept happening to me over and over.  Waves of nausea would hit me around mile 8 of nearly every long runs and this one was no different.  

 Was this sign made for me?

A common theme was emerging.

I know I’m well hydrated.  I eat nearly the same thing for breakfast (especially before long runs) every day.  My salt intake is where it needs to be.    

It's just that nerves and long distance running do not mix well for me. 

So I started doing some research.  I was taking Zofran before (an anti-nausea med I had taken for morning all day sickness when I was pregnant) and it wasn’t doing the trick.  So I looked into some more natural remedies.  I found that using essential oil might help.  I reached out to a consultant from my hometown, who verified that peppermint oil is a very effective nausea remedy.  It was worth a try.


I ordered a bottle on amazon and tried it out for the first time during a training run.  I apply a few drops directly to my upper abdomen and then put just a little under my nose to aide in breathing and help open my lungs.  I have used it prior to my last 3 marathons and multiple long training runs and have had ZERO issues with nausea, or even worse what comes with it.  

I told some of my frunners about it and now many of us are using it, but for an even better reason….muscle recovery!  When applied directly to muscles, it provides a “cooling” effect to ease muscle aches and pains that come with long distance running.  My friend Alicia used it after a very difficult marathon in Waco and took ZERO Advil/Ibuprofen in the days following.  I thought that was pretty incredible so I tried it myself after the last marathon I did.  Typically I hobble around for 48 hours.  I applied it to my quads and hamstrings shortly after finishing and again the next day.  Recovery time <24 hours.  I even felt like I could have done a recovery run the next day.  Part of the shorter recovery time is likely due to the fact that I am getting much more used to running the long distances more regularly, but still…I will take all the help I can get.

Peppermint can be used in a number of ways.  I apply the full strength oil directly on my skin.  Others use a carrier oil, such as almond or coconut, and add a few drops of the essential oil to that (I'd suggest a carrier oil to apply to larger areas, such as the legs).  Some peppermint oil is ok to consume, such as in a hot tea or a glass of water (ALWAYS READ THE LABELS BEFORE INGESTING).  It can also be used in a hot bath.  In fact, I found a published study (which I have become a pro at after an intense graduate research course) where ingested peppermint was found to improve athletic performance, respiratory status and recovery.   It was shown to have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and antioxidant effects.  Peppermint can also improve mood and aide in headache relief when applied to the temples.  

 Does a peppermint martini count?

There are many, many other essential oils out there, which I am trying to learn about, and I am aware they are not the “cure all” for all that ails you.  Please do not take this as medical advice, but more of an educational tidbit.  I know I LOVE learning about new things that work for runners that I haven’t heard, read or thought about.

A key to the essential oil is to ensure that it is pure.  I am not endorsing one brand or another.  I have a couple.  I purchased some from a company called Native American and Olympian Labs.  My friends have purchased from Butterfly Express and Young Living.  We have all had great results with those.  Also note that not all oils are consumable.  My peppermint is NOT.  I apply it to my skin only.


On an added note, I recommend that if you have ANY illnesses, either chronic or acute, please consult your doctor before you use essential oils.  There is not a great deal of research on the subject, but just like herbal medication and vitamins, there is the potential of drug interactions.


My dad used essential oil for a short time.  He was told by a consultant (whose company shall remain nameless), based on a very expensive “scan” of his hands, that he was deficient of multiple minerals (titanium, iron and gold among others)  and that areas his body were stressed.  While the human body does contain very trace amounts of these substances, as far as I know, only a blood sample would be able to detect such amounts.  Do you know someone who has been told they are deficient in gold & needed treatment for it?  I have been a nurse for nearly twenty years and have NEVER heard of this.  As a health professional, I found this ridiculous and laughable.  I could have told him for free the areas of his body that were stressed, It wasn’t a long shot.  My dad is a type 1 diabetic, with heart disease.  Pancreas, heart and kidneys?  Bingo!  I was very upset and angered that someone had coerced him into doing this, and more so that he was sold hundreds of dollars in essential oils.  Oils that *I* am nearly certain played a part in a dangerous and very lethal potassium imbalance he just happened to have after using them for a month. His physician was not aware he was using the oils, but explained to my mom that he should STOP them all immediately. He is lucky to be alive.

 That's my dad!

Bottom the research.  Consult your physician if on medications.  

But I will say….the peppermint has worked like a charm for me (and several of my friends!) as far as muscle recovery and relieving nausea. 

And it's always nice to smell like a candy cane!

Here is more great reading related to reviews of different essential oil companies.

It actually led me to buy some of the products from one specific company.  I find it rather unbiased as the writer was once a consultant for a couple of the companies reviewed. 

Have you ever used essential oils?  What worked?  What didn't?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip!! I need to learn more "tricks" of the running world as I learn to become a longer distance runner myself. Super cute photo of you and your dad too!! :)