Background: Recently, there has been an increased interest in the effects of essential oils on athletic performances and other physiological effects. This study aimed to assess the effects of Citrus sinensis flower and Mentha spicata leaves essential oils inhalation in two different groups of athlete male students on their exercise performance and lung function.
Methods: Twenty physical education students volunteered to participate in the study. The subjects were randomly assigned into two groups: Mentha spicata and Citrus sinensis (ten participants each). One group was nebulized by Citrus sinensis flower oil and the other by Mentha spicata leaves oil in a concentration of (0.02 ml/kg of body mass) which was mixed with 2 ml of normal saline for 5 min before a 1500 m running tests. Lung function tests were measured using a spirometer for each student pre and post nebulization giving the same running distance pre and post oils inhalation.
Results: A lung function tests showed an improvement on the lung status for the students after inhaling of the oils. Interestingly, there was a significant increase in Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second and Forced Vital Capacity after inhalation for the both oils. Moreover significant reductions in the means of the running time were observed among these two groups. The normal spirometry results were 50 %, while after inhalation with M. spicata oil the ratio were 60 %.
Conclusion: Our findings support the effectiveness of M. spicata and C. sinensis essential oils on the exercise performance and respiratory function parameters. However, our conclusion and generalisability of our results should be interpreted with caution due to small sample size and lack of control groups, randomization or masking. We recommend further investigations to explain the mechanism of actions for these two essential oils on exercise performance and respiratory parameters.
Trial registration: ISRCTN10133422, Registered: May 3, 2016.
Keywords: Athletic performance; Citrus sinensis; Essential oil; Lung function; Mentha spicata.