Going to Bat for Natural Performance Boosters

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“Dear Pharmacist,

I have reason to suspect that members of my son’s high school baseball team are using steroids to give them an edge on the competition. Are there any safe, natural alternatives to enhance performance?”

–G.H., Gainesville, Florida

Answer: Steroid abuse among teenage athletes is indeed cause for concern! Side effects range from acne and increased aggressiveness to high blood pressure and liver damage. To really dissuade your son, tell him that side effects could include girly breasts that need to be surgically removed! While steroid use might promote muscularity, it could ultimately short-change his stature by several inches of height.

Okay, lecture over. A fascinating study just completed in 2012 by researchers at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that the aroma of jasmine flowers helped professional baseball players improve their batting performance. No joke. In this study, the players took a whiff of their wristband, which was impregnated with the scent of jasmine, and then they stepped up to the plate. Batter up. At another point in the study, the players stepped up to the plate and sniffed wristbands that did not have jasmine aroma.

Players’ batting performance was evaluated by judges who had no idea which players had sniffed jasmine-infused wristbands. Players evaluated their own performance as well. Long story short, the researchers concluded that jasmine helped improve the mechanics of swinging the bat, the overall bat speed as well as the trajectory of the ball.

“These results suggest that jasmine could have potential utility in not only enhancing athletic ability, but also other endeavors requiring precise-hand eye coordination,” researches concluded. Such endeavors might include things like micro-surgery and musical performance, they noted.

My 19 y.o. son said this all sounded a little hokey, but you know what, given what teenage locker rooms smell like, several drops of jasmine on a wristband will go unnoticed by the other guys. If your son is overly concerned about smelling too feminine, keep the wristband in a baggie and slip it on in the field. Inhale deeply before the game, several times.Please share my column with your son’s coach so he can get the whole team on board. They have nothing to lose except the playoffs.Lead researcher Alan Hirsch, MD, said that he wasn’t surprised by the findings, as previous studies have shown jasmine to improve athletic performance in other sports, including bowling. Strike!

Another natural performance enhancer that I like is the age-old herb called rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea). Studies have yet to find a single harmful side effect with rhodiola, an adaptogen frequently used to lift mood and destress you mentally, but of course ask your doctor if it’s right for you. what if it’s okay to take the herb for a couple of weeks before the big game, or even before finals. It’s sold nationwide, along with pure essential oil of jasmine.