• Laura Warren

Essential Oils to assist athletic performance

If you are a competitive athlete I bet you are always on the look out for cutting edge practices for nutrition and training optimization, utilizing every possible resource to train your body to get maximum performance level out.

The ongoing appeal of a next ‘big thing’ to increase performance and speed recovery time has led to an endless array of less than ideal, money draining choices, as evidenced by “performance enhancing” drugs.

An athlete who chooses to support their body in a natural and holistic manner is setting themselves up not only for high performance but also sustained health and longevity.

Did you know that pure therapeutic grade essential oils for athletes are powerful, useful tools. They offer amazing support to help you reach your goals with no unwanted side effects!

Photo: Lisa Tamati - Ultra Endurance Althete

Essential oils are volatile aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. These compounds protect the plant – they ward off predators, help with pollination & generally keep the plant strong. Those properties also make these oils beneficial to us in a pure & potent form. They are extracted from the plant and distilled into what we know as an essential oil. These oils are 50-70x more powerful than the plants & herbs themselves! For example: ONE drop of peppermint oil is equivalent to 28 cups of peppermint tea.

There are over 3,000 varieties of volatile aromatic compounds currently identified, the nature of each varies from plant to plant. The specific ratio of aromatic constituents found in an essential oil are what gives it specific benefits; which can vary depending on the time of day, season, geographic location, method and duration of distillation, year grown, and the weather.

This variance is why the essential oil you choose is so important, so that you get the benefits you are looking for. I recommend a therapeutic grade oil that incorporates rigorous testing to ensure purity and potency.

I personally use and have experience excellent results with clients using the dōTERRA essential oils for this purpose.

Here are some of the applications for using essential oils to enhance your athletic performance:

Boost Performance

In a study published in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, subjects used .05ml of peppermint oil in a drink, consumed each day for ten consecutive days. At the end of the study, the total work performed by the test subjects increased by 51% and their time to exhaustion increased by about 25%. The results strongly support the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil on the exercise performance, respiratory function variables, systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory gas exchange parameters.Another study revealed instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103722/)

Immune Support

A recent published study summarized this concern well:

“Prolonged bouts of exercise and heavy training regimens are associated with depression of immune system functions that can increase the risk of picking up opportunistic infections such as the common cold and influenza” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26634839)

Without a fully functioning immune system, an athlete could struggle to keep up with the demands of training and performing well with a competitive schedule. Often it is touted that who people who eat wholefoods and exercise regularly have a strong immune system by default but there is an individual threshold for this.

While its well proven that exercise helps to keep us healthy and with a strong immune system, intense training can actually stress the immune system and leave the athlete susceptible the commonly circulating illnesses like colds or flu viruses

Many essential oils have the ability to help block viruses and bacteria, and some of them can help to modulate the immune system.

These essential oils can be incorporated for their immune boosting ability:

Frankincense: A lab test in 2014, evaluated the composition of frankincense oil and its effects on the immune system. In line with what we already know about frankincense experimentally, the oil showed strong immune-boosting effects on white blood cells (https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/znc.2003.58.issue-3-4/znc-2003-3-416/znc-2003-3-416.xml)

Eucalyptus: another immune stimulant, eucalyptus can modify the immune response with simple inhalation. One research article notes that this is “surprising” since eucalyptus is also antimicrobial, an action pairing that is not common (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20359267) Eucalyptus is a powerhouse for boosting the immune system and keeping illness away.

Training Recovery

Training hard can often result in achy or painful muscles. An essential oil massage oil or bath can relax and soothe after a long day of training – regardless of the oil! Pick the scents you love to help you really relax and recovery which will decrease inflammation and pain.

Specific oils that have been shown to help with pain are Lavender and Peppermint (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/)

Lavender is the most popular oil worldwide and is used for its calming and relaxing qualities. Put in a diffuser to calm the environment before a big race or applied topically to reduce anxious feeling can be great the night before a stressful race! Rest is massively important for athletic performance – don’t neglect this area of your training!


If you’re already drinking hot lemon water each morning, you can add the benefits of lemon oil. Squeezing lemon into the water gives us the benefits of the fruit, by adding lemon essential oil you get the potent benefits from cold-pressing the lemon peel which is a natural cleansing effect in the body and aids digestion. In addition, it also supports healthy respiratory function. If your sport or passion takes you outdoors, lemon essential oil can assist with seasonal respiratory sensitivities (https://draxe.com/lemon-essential-oil-uses-benefits/)

Stinky Sports Gear Solution

Freshen up those smelly running shoes with antimicrobial and fresh smelling lemon essential oil.

Odor-eating powder: Add 5-10 drops of lemon essential oil to some baking soda and sprinkle into shoes and onto gear.

Scent-killing spray: Add 5-10 drops each of lemon, orange, and lime (or your favorite citrus oil blend – Highly recommend Citrus Bliss) to a spritz bottle half filled with vinegar. Fill the rest with water, shake and spray.

There are so many ways that essential oils can help support your performance and health! If this subject interests you and you would like to find out specific ways to implement and source Doterra essential oils for your own use; please contact Laura Warren through www.revitalizeme.co.nz. You will be able to access wholesale essential oil prices and have a free 30min wellness consultation to ensure your understand how to use them safely and effectively to reach your performance goals.