Effects of peppermint, chewing gum on memory, cognition, alertness, reaction time, arithmetic skills and athletic performance during laboratory induced stress in undergraduate medical students


  • Piyush Prashant Gandhi Student, N.K.P. Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
  • Riyaz Ahmed Siddiqui Department of Pharmacology, N.K.P. Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India




Cognitive skills, Peppermint gum, Psychomotor, Stressful environment


Background: Many medical students are dealing with day to day stress in their lives and they need to be both physically and mentally active to counter and overcome their daily problems. In such scenario, a non-pharmacological adjunct could prove useful to counter all of it so that they can work more efficiently. Many universities do recommend the use of peppermints and chewing gums. This study is conducted to see if any of these items actually have an influence on cognitive and physical abilities.

Methods: A non-randomized controlled trial was performed on the undergraduate medical students of  N.K.P. Salve Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre belonging to the age group of 18-21 years. They were given normal flavoured gum, mint flavoured gum and peppermint. A series of cognitive and physiological tests in both stressful and stress free environments were performed.

Results: Consumption of peppermint in a stressful environment showed increase in attention span of the subjects and it increased the intelligence Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-R (WAIS-R) in both stress free and stressful environments. As compared to normal gum, peppermint and peppermint gum proved to be more effective. There was no significant change observed in alertness, reaction time, arithmetic ability, short term memory and fatigue index in any of the subjects.

Conclusions: Peppermint has caused increase in the attention span and intelligence of medical students in a stressful work scenario. Peppermint gum was found to be more beneficial than normal gum.


Morinushi T, Masumoto Y, Kawasaki H, Takigawa M. Effect on electroencephalogram of chewing flavored gum. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2000 Dec;54(6):645-51.

Johnson AJ, Jenks R, Miles C, Albert M, Cox M. Chewing gum moderates multi-task induced shifts in stress, mood, and alertness. A re-examination. Appetite. 2011 Apr;56(2):408-11.

Smith AP, Chaplin K, Wadsworth E. Chewing gum, occupational stress, work performance and wellbeing. An intervention study. Appetite. 2012 Jun;58(3):1083-6.

Johnson AJ, Muneem M, Miles C. Chewing gum benefits sustained attention in the absence of task degradation. Nutr Neurosci. 2013 Jul;16(4):153-9.

Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int J Neurosci. 2008 Jan;118(1):59-77.

Raudenbush B, Corley N, Eppich W. Enhancing Athletic Performance through the Administration of Peppermint Odour. J Sport and Exercise Psychol. 2001;23(2):156-160.

Smith A. Effects of chewing gum on cognitive function, mood and physiology in stressed and non-stressed volunteers. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Feb;13(1):7-16.

Considine S, Diaz AT, DeRoche L, Rajput G, Retsky R, Potter N. The effect of Peppermint Flavoured Chewing Gum on Parameters Related to Physical Fitness J Advanced Stud Sci. Spring 2018(1):1-23

Madan N, Rhatman A. Chewing Gums for Optimal Health. Chronicles of Young Scientists. 2011 Jan-March;2(1):7-11.

Zoladz PR, Raudenbush B. Cognitive Enhancement Through Stimulation of the Chemical Senses. North American J Psychol. 2005 Apr 1;7(1):125-40.

Kaye SK, Jenks R, Miles C, Johnson AJ. Chewing gum modifies state anxiety and alertness under conditions of social stress. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2011 Nov 1;14(6):237-42.

Kurokawa K., Nakajuima K., Maeda M., Takeda T., Ishigami K., The Effects of Gum Chewing on Body Reaction Time, Int J Sports Dentistry. 2008;1(1):47-53.

Overman AA, Sun J, Golding AC, Prevost D. Chewing gum does not induce context-dependent memory when flavor is held constant. Appetite. 2009 Oct;53(2):253-5.

Stephens R, Tunney RJ. Role of glucose in chewing gum-related facilitation of cognitive function. Appetite. 2004 Oct;43(2):211-3.

Sasaki-Otomaru A, Sakuma Y, Mochizuki Y, Ishida S, Kanoya Y, Sato C. Effect of regular gum chewing on levels of anxiety, mood, and fatigue in healthy young adults [published correction appears in Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2012;8:46]. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2011;7:133-9.

Chaturvedi K. Cognitive questionnaire test. Android Application Available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.questionnaire.questionnaire

Scholey A, Haskell C, Robertson B, Kennedy D, Milne A, Wetherell M. Chewing gum alleviates negative mood and reduces cortisol during acute laboratory psychological stress. Physiol Behav. 2009 Jun 22;97(3-4):304-12.

Deeley C.E.R. Effects of Chewing Gum on Heart Rate: A Physiological Stress Indicator. Surrey Undergrad Res J. 2016;2(2):1-13.

Johnson AJ, Miles C, Haddrell B, Harrison E, Osborne L, Wilson N, Jenks R. The effect of chewing gum on physiological and self-rated measures of alertness and daytime sleepiness. Physiol Behavior. 2012 Feb 1;105(3):815-20.

Wilson A, Kim W, Raudenbush B. The Effects of Chewing Cinnamon Flavored Gum on Mood, Feeling and Spelling Acquisition. English Language Teaching. 2016;9(6):223-8.

Smith A. Effects of chewing gum on mood, learning, memory and performance of an intelligence test. Nutr Neurosci. 2009 Apr;12(2):81-8.

Baker JR, Bezance JB, Zellaby E, Aggleton JP. Chewing gum can produce context-dependent effects upon memory. Appetite. 2004 Oct;43(2):207-10.




How to Cite

Gandhi, P. P., & Siddiqui, R. A. (2019). Effects of peppermint, chewing gum on memory, cognition, alertness, reaction time, arithmetic skills and athletic performance during laboratory induced stress in undergraduate medical students. International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, 8(6), 1254–1261. https://doi.org/10.18203/2319-2003.ijbcp20192185



Original Research Articles