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The Use of Ammonia
Inhalants Among Athletes
James R. Velasquez, EdD, ATC, CSCS
Exercise and Sports Studies Department, D’Youville College, Buffalo, New York
Ammonia inhalant (AI) use is
widespread by athletes as a pos-
sible means of temporarily
enhancing athletic performance during
training or competition (3,5). AI use is
common among various athletes as
a means of increasing focus or ‘‘psych-
ing up,’’ and it has been speculated that
AIs are most commonly used for their
purported benefit of increasing muscu-
lar strength for short periods of time
(3). Presently, there is no empirical
evidence supporting this purported
ergogenic effect. The use of AIs can
most commonly be observed anecdot-
ally among powerlifters, weightlifters,
and track and field athletes (3), as well
as within sports such as boxing, foot-
ball, hockey, and mixed martial arts. It
has also been speculated that interest in
AI use has recently experienced a re-
surgence among athletes (5).
AIs are commonly referred to as
smelling salts, ammonia capsules, or
ammonia salts and historically have
been used for the prevention and
treatment of fainting, dizziness, and
lightheadedness. Research on AI use,
risk, and effectiveness among athletic
populations is nonexistent, even though
anecdotal reports indicate that their use
is widespread (3,5). AI use has largely
been advocated against by many health
care professionals and organizations
because AI use can complicate the
evaluation of injury, especially mild
head injuries and concussions.
Research investigating the use of AI
among athletes is nonexistent. Although
the nonergogenic use of AIs has been
reported as early as the 13th century (5),
there is no present research examining
the prevalence of AI use among athletes.
The paucity of research examining the
effectiveness and/or extent of AI use
necessitates that anecdotal reports and
observation be the primary mechanisms
that establish their popularity and extent
of use among athletes. A certain level
of knowledge should be maintained
among those in the strength and
conditioning community because the
use of AIs often occurs concomitantly
with strength training and competitive
sports and possesses a certain degree of
relative risk. There have been adverse
reactions with AI use reported pre-
viously in the literature (3), and the use
of any substance that has the potential
for misuse by athletes must be
understood by strength and con-
ditioning staffs, coaches, and athletic
Ammonium carbonate, the active in-
gredient in AIs, is often combined with
scents or perfumes, giving AIs the more
accurate name of aromatic spirits of
ammonia. Ammonium carbonate is
characterized as a respiratory stimulant
that exerts its physiological effect
when inhaled or sniffed. When inhaled,
it causes a rapid and extreme irritation
of the lungs, nose, and mucus mem-
branes of the nasal cavity. This causes
a concomitant rapid inhalation reflex
that causes involuntary inhalation (5).
This reflex then stimulates the
muscles that control breathing to
work faster, accelerating respiration
and stimulating a higher degree of
Historically, AIs have been indicated
for the use of treating fainting, light-
headedness, and dizziness. Today,
the only approved use of AIs in the
United States is for the treatment of
fainting, and this use extends to the
entire general population. According
to Drug Information Online
salts.html. Accessed: March 1, 2010),
AIs are classified as respiratory stimu-
lants that act through peripheral
irritation of the respiratory system
ammonia inhalant; smelling salt;
ammonia salt; ergogenic aid
Copyright ÓNational Strength and Conditioning Association Strength and Conditioning Journal | 33
(7). The use of AIs is most commonly
observed among athletes immediately
before or during competition. During
training, their use often precedes or
accompanies high-intensity strength
training. Anecdotally, it is common
to observe athletes use AIs before
1-repetition maximum (RM) attempts,
especially movements such as the squat,
deadlift, bench press, or power clean.
Furthermore, AI use can also be ob-
served before or during various sporting
events. For example, it is not uncommon
to observe athletes sniff AIs before the
opening kickoff of a football game, in
between rounds of a boxing match, or in
locker rooms during breaks or intermis-
sions of games.
For many reasons, health care pro-
fessionals and sports medicine organ-
izations advocate against the use of AI.
In Canada, the sale of AIs has been
stopped, and they are no longer avail-
able for purchase over-the-counter (6).
Ammonia is a toxic substance, and AI
inhalation merely provides symptom
relief and does nothing, or potentially
complicates, the underlying injury. For
this reason, the use of AIs has fallen out
of favor among sports medicine pro-
fessionals and physicians. However, AI
accessibility still makes their self-pre-
scription by athletes widespread, often
without the knowledge of the coaches
or sports medicine team.
Although anecdotal reports indicate
that AI use poses certain risks among
the athletic population, AIs are gener-
ally considered safe for their indicated
use in treating fainting. However, there
is no empirical research establishing
their safety or ergogenic benefit when
used by athletes during training or
competition. AIs are approved for use
by the Food and Drug Administration
and are available for purchase over-
the-counter in the United States. The
accessibility of AIs makes their poten-
tial misuse high among athletes. AIs
are often found in most commercial
first aid kits where they are indicated
only for use with fainting. The use
of AIs among athletes, based primarily
on anecdotal reports, has been
commonplace as a means of tempo-
rarily increasing consciousness, focus,
and excitement before competition.
Unfortunately, AIs have also been used
by athletes, sports medicine professio-
nals, and coaches as a way of ‘‘clearing
an athlete’s head’’ after injury. This
practice is dangerous because AIs can
lead to a rapid involuntary contraction
of the head and neck that can exacer-
bate an underlying injury. AI use in this
manner also complicates evaluation of
the underlying head injury.
There have been numerous reports of
toxicity, sickness, and death as a result
of ammonium exposure in large doses.
Inhalation of high doses (in much
greater concentrations than what is
present in over-the-counter AIs) can
cause severe lung damage (2). Com-
plications with use of AIs among
athletes is not common but have been
reported (3). As early as 1920, it was
reported that overuse of AIs caused
a boxer to lose consciousness in
between rounds. It was reported in
The New York Times (October 8, 1920)
that the boxer had inhaled enough
ammonia to ‘‘revive a stricken horse.’’
Although cases such as this are very
rare, other cases of adverse events with
the use of AIs have been reported.
Herrick and Herrick (3) have reported
a case of anaphylaxis in a female
powerlifter as a result of AI use. In this
case, the athlete experienced an acute
case of anaphylaxis during a competi-
tion after inhalation of an aromatic AI.
In preparation for an attempt at
a national powerlifting record, the lifter
inhaled the contents of an AI and
immediately began experiencing pro-
gressively worsening signs and symp-
toms of anaphylaxis (3).
There are certain differences and
considerations that must be under-
stood between the use of AIs before
and during athletic competition. While
the safety of AIs before competition or
during training has not been investi-
gated, their use during athletic com-
petition should be prohibited by
members of the coaching and sports
medicine staff. AI use during compe-
tition may indicate that an athlete has
suffered a head injury, may have lost
consciousness at some point during
their competition, or are experiencing
headache, dizziness, or lightheaded-
ness. Use of AIs in any of these
situations may complicate subsequent
evaluation of injury by making it more
difficult for coaches and/or athletic
trainers to identify if an athlete has
suffered a head injury and putting the
athlete at risk if they return to play (5).
Athletes observed self-prescribing AIs
during competition should minimally
be questioned about their use or ideally
screened for potential head injury or
concussion. Recently, there has been
increased media attention and scrutiny
of concussion injuries in sports. Today,
there is a better understanding of the
impact of repeated concussions on
athletes, especially as it pertains to
chronic brain damage and long-term
psychological and emotional health.
There are numerous cases of ex-
athletes suffering complications from
mismanagement of concussions. Some
of these athletes also report misuse of
AIs in treating their concussions.
National Football League (NFL) Hall
of Famer Jim Brown described to (http://nfl.fanhouse.
was-hurt-once. Accessed: March 1,
2010) returning to play after a concus-
sion and specifically mentions ‘‘smell-
ing salts’’ as a method of treatment. Ex-
NFL player Andre Waters reportedly
endured multiple concussions over his
career but often did not report them.
He stated in The New York Times
(January 18, 2007) that he ‘‘stopped
counting after 15 concussions’’ and that
‘‘I’d sniff some smelling salts, then go
back in there.’’ He committed suicide
in 2007, and physicians have concluded
that he had sustained brain damage as
a result of the numerous concussions
he experienced during his career and
that this lead to depression and
ultimately his premature death.
Aside from the danger of masking the
signs and symptoms of injury, other
risks of AI use are present when used
during training or competition. The
use of AIs may predispose athletes to
VOLUME 33 | NUMBER 2 | APRIL 201 1
Use of Ammonia Inhalants Among Athletes
injury because they may cause athletes
to do something that they are in-
capable of doing. In training, it is often
observed that athletes will use AIs
immediately before a high-intensity
lift or during 1RM testing. This
method of getting ‘‘psyched up’’ may
be perceived to be helpful by athletes
but may cause an athlete to attempt
a lift at a level of intensity that they
are not capable of completing, putting
the athlete at increased risk of injury.
AI use has also been reported to
induce allergic reactions and is an
irritant to the respiratory tract. Thus,
it has the potential to exacerbate
underlying asthma and trigger
asthma attacks. Athletes with known
asthma or other respiratory condi-
tions should be prohibited from using
AIs at any time.
There have also been reports of AI
use resulting in death as a result of
asphyxiation. One highly publicized
report was of a 14-year boy whose
death was caused by AI use and
resulted in a $5 million award to the
boy’s family. Martin Lee Anderson
camp designed for young criminal
offenders. During a group running
drill, he fell to the ground and was
administered AIs. It was determined
later that the boy suffered from Sickle
cell trait and that this condition was
exacerbated by the AI use. An
autopsy found that he died as a result
of asphyxia because of repeated AI
administration (1). Sickle cell trait
is a condition that decreases the
amount of oxygen carried in the
blood and has been shown to be
a risk factor for sudden death during
physical activity (4). The National
Collegiate Athletic Association re-
cently introduced, in the NCAA
News (April 13, 2010), a mandatory
screening of student athletes for this
condition beginning in the 2010–
2011 academic year.
The use of AIs among athletes,
although common, should not be
approached without concern. Ammo-
nia is a toxic substance in large doses.
The use of AIs may offer a modest
ergogenic effect, but there is no
empirical research that is supportive
of this. However, adverse events have
occurred and been reported (1,3),
and there are certain situations
where AI use among athletes must be
discouraged, most notably during ath-
letic competition and among athletes
with any preexisting medical
The use of AIs during training and
competition necessitates that the
strength and conditioning profes-
sional be knowledgeable of their
use. Whether AI use provides athletes
with any scientifically proven ergo-
genic benefit cannot be answered
given the lack of research examining
AI use during training or competition.
There is no research showing any
increase in strength or athletic per-
formance after their use (3). Research
examining the safety and efficacy of
AIs during training is needed and
would be beneficial in establishing
their potential safety and/or efficacy.
Anecdotally, the use of AIs does seem
to provide athletes with increased
focus and effort. However, it is
prudent to understand that because
their effectiveness has not been docu-
mented among athletes, and the use
of AIs should be approached with
caution. There is no place for AI use
in the care of an injured athlete, and
their use should be discouraged.
Furthermore, strength and
conditioning personnel, coaches,
keenly aware of potential self-utiliza-
tion by athletes. It must also be
understood that even when AIs
are used for purposes for which they
are indicated, their action is only
treatment for their indicated purpose,
their action merely treats a symptom,
and should not replace appropriate
medical evaluation to identify the
cause of the symptom.
Dr. James
Velasquez is
an assistant pro-
fessor and coordi-
nator within the
Exercise and
Sports Studies
Department at
D’Youville College,
Buffalo, NY.
1. Bledsoe BE. This procedure stinks: The
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52–53, 2003.
2. Campbell S. Severe ventilatory depression
reversed with aromatic ammonia inhalation
[letter]. N Engl J Med 319: 1550, 1988.
3. Herrick R and Herrick S. Allergic reaction to
aromatic ammonia inhalant ampule: A case
report. Am J Sports Med 11: 28, 1983.
4. Kark J, Posey DM, Schumacher HR, and
Ruehle CJ. Sickle-cell trait as a risk factor for
sudden death in physical training. NEnglJ
Med 317: 781–787, 1987.
5. McCrory P. Warm up; smelling salts. Br J
Sports Med 40: 659–660, 2006.
6. Reynolds R. Stop sale, use of ‘‘smelling
salts’’ [letter]. Family Practitioner Report
Online. 10: 2004.
7. Rodenberg H. Ammonia inhalants: Not to be
taken lightly. Available at: http://www.
Accessed: March 8, 2010.
Strength and Conditioning Journal | 35
... Despite the scarcity of evidence for their efficacy, AI use remains widely popular among those competing in sports such as powerlifting, weightlifting, track and field, boxing, American football, hockey and mixed martial arts (Velasquez, 2011). To help understand their popularity, we can explore the physiological responses induced by AI use. ...
... Despite a lack of research existing to support their beneficial effects, AIs are commonly used in resistancebased exercise as they are believed to temporarily increase the consciousness and arousal of an individual during training and competition (Velasquez, 2011). The current study is the first to assess arousal, via an alertness scale, alongside markers of functional performance, following AI use; specifically, we observed an increase in alertness ratings after stimulant inhalation. ...
... The current study is the first to assess arousal, via an alertness scale, alongside markers of functional performance, following AI use; specifically, we observed an increase in alertness ratings after stimulant inhalation. It is possible that alertness was elevated as a result of a sympathetic nervous response, as AIs have previously been reported to increase breathing rate and HR following inhalation (McCrory, 2006;Perry et al., 2016;Velasquez, 2011). However, despite an acute elevation in HR (Figure 2 (a)), there was no correlation between HR and alertness, which suggests that sympathetic nervous response was not exclusively responsible for increases in alertness with AI use. ...
Many athletes seek to enhance their performance using legal ergogenic aids, including ammonia inhalants (AIs). AIs trigger the inhalation reflex and increase blood pressure, respiration and heart rate; but, despite their widespread use, there is little evidence for the benefits of AI on exercise performance. We aimed to determine the psychological and neuromuscular impact of acute ammonia inhalation. Fourteen non-resistance trained males completed three trials: control, experimental (AI), and sham. The order of the sham and experimental trials was randomized. Participants completed handgrip and knee extension maximal voluntary contractions (MVC), and countermovement jump (CMJ). Heart rate and alertness were recorded at rest and immediately following control, experimental or sham treatment, followed by functional performance measurements. Reaction time, electromechanical delay, rate of force development and peak force were calculated from MVCs, and peak power from CMJ. On completion of trials, perceived performance was recorded. Statistical significance was accepted at P<0.05. Heart rate (P<0.001), alertness (P=0.009) and perceived performance (P=0.036) were elevated by AIs. Markers of functional performance were unaltered by AIs. Alertness was moderately correlated with perceived performance in control (r=0.61) and sham conditions (r=0.54), and very-highly correlated in the experimental condition (r=0.90). AI elevates alertness and perceived physical performance, but not peak strength, power, or neuromuscular drive. AIs may be a useful psychological stimulant to increase focus and mental preparation, however it is unlikely that this will improve functional performance in an untrained population. Our data suggest however, that ammonia inhalants may improve the perception of an individual's performance.
... First, because ammonia is water soluble, AI inhalation may be associated with irritation of the upper respiratory tract through the mucosa and, consequently, may result in lung irritation which results in coughing and a potential increased respiratory rate (58). Second, because of the possible irritation of the respiratory passages, the sympathetic nervous system may respond as part of the autonomic nervous system (53). The autonomic stimulations are presumably associated with the activation of the olfactory and trigeminal nerves (5), which can subsequently result in activating the adrenergic receptors in peripheral tissue, releasing norepinephrine, and increasing cardiac output and respiratory rate (28). ...
... Although this sequence of events is logical, the specific moments when the respiratory rate increases and the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated are unknown. Considering the purpose of AI use and these underlying mechanisms, it can be hypothesized that AI inhalation could result in performanceenhancing effects, but the physiological reaction and timing remain unclear (35,39,53). ...
... Most research has reported that inhaling AIs results in what can be described as a "psyching-up" or "pick me up" effect (31,52,53). It is likely that this effect is the result of altered fundamental breathing patterns as the stimulated respiration muscles operate faster, increasing the respiratory rate, and possibly resulting in a higher level of vigilance (31,42,55). ...
Ammonium inhalants (AIs) are used to improve athletic performance, but their use has preceded the research process. Oftentimes, strength-based athletes use AIs to postpone acute fatigue or increase arousal. Despite the widespread use of AIs, the amount of research examining its physiological effects, efficacy, and safety is low compared with other ergogenic aids that have been extensively researched. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to provide sports science researchers, strength and conditioning professionals, medical professionals, and other practitioners with the most up to date information about the benefits, risks, and physiological effects of AIs. To date, there is a lack of evidence to support anecdotal claims of increased cognitive arousal and greater strength performance. However, there may be a short-term effect of AIs on the cardiorespiratory system (possibly increasing breathing rate and heart rate approximately 15–30 seconds), but further research is needed to support these findings and to determine how the short-term cardiorespiratory effects may affect other physiological and performance measures. Finally, although evidence does not indicate that AIs are dangerous in healthy populations, sport and health professionals should be aware of the potential risks of AIs to prevent any unlikely, but possible, difficulties.
... AI use is common in powerlifting because as a sport it requires short term, high intensity efforts that require a high degree of strength, power and speed. Other sports that require similar characteristics also have anecdotal use of AI's; sports such as Olympic weightlifting, American football and throwing events in athletics (14). This is due to the nature of how AI's influence the human body. ...
... When sniffed the ammonia gas released from the mixture irritates the nerve endings within the nose, nasal cavity and lungs. This changes the individuals breathing pattern and causes an inhalation reflex, increasing respiratory rate and possibly alertness (14). The use of AI's by athletes as a means of increasing alertness or a method of "psyching up" has been known to occur for a long time (6), and AI's are not banned in the IPF (WADA affiliated), in fact it states in their Technical Rules Book that "A lifter shall not wrap, adjust his costume or use ammonia within view of the public." ...
... The strong belief that the stimulants under investigation here are safe is based on limited research and the safety of these products, both acutely and chronically, is an area that warrants further research. However, in the case of AI's there is currently only one negative incident is reported in the literature (6), but caution is advised by others (12,14). Both energy drinks and 'pre-workouts' act largely through their caffeine content. ...
... Although some ergogenic aids are banned in training and competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), others, including ammonia inhalant (AI) use, are not banned and are used in competition by powerlifters (16,26). In their international survey of powerlifters, Pritchard et al. (22) revealed that 49 percent of all respondents used AI, 78 percent of users felt AI use was ergogenic, and 80 percent of all respondents indicated AI use was a safe practice. ...
... The effect of treatments on absolute dead-lift performance is presented in Figure 1 DISCUSSION AI is commonly practiced by power athletes to induce heightened arousal and alertness as well as increased respiratory rate (16,26). AI use by powerlifters is most commonly associated with the dead lift which is the last lift in powerlifting competitions (22). ...
Full-text available
Ammonia inhalant (AI) use by powerlifters and weightlifters is a prevalent practice with little research support for improved performance. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of ammonia as a stimulant on athletic performance during a dead lift one maximal repetition (1-RM) absolute strength test. Subjects (n=10 men, mean±SD age=21±1 years, mass=72.5±6.8 kg; n=10 women, age=22±5 years, mass=66.2±8.1 kg) were required to have at least two years of resistance training experience while lacking a history of asthma, lightheadedness, fainting, anaphylaxis, sickle cell traits, and other respiratory disorders. After a baseline 1-RM test, subjects were paired by 1-RM performance and gender, then randomly assigned in a counterbalanced treatment order to control (water) or ammonia trials after a minimum 72-hour recovery period for another 1-RM test involving attempts at 100.0%, 102.5%, 105.0%, and 107.5% of the established 1-RM value. Testing was then repeated after the minimum rest period for the remaining trial. Results revealed the expected gender main effect for absolute dead lift 1-RM (93.0±29.5 [women]; 152.0±29.5 kg [men] (p<0.001), but no trial main effect (p=0.874) or gender by trial interaction effect (baseline=93.0± 15.3, 151.8±42.3 kg; water=92.0±12.5, 150.9±37.8 kg; ammonia=92.5±16.4, 153.4±37.9 kg) for women and men, respectively (p=0.559). Within the limitations of this study, there is no support for the practice of ammonia inhalation to improve dead lift 1-RM in training or competition.
... An alternative or supplementary method, to nutritional stimulant use is the inhalation of ammonia vapour (Velasquez 2011). A recent survey of 256 international powerlifters competing in the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) found that 50 % of lifters reported using ammonia inhalants during competition. ...
... Ammonia vapour irritates the nose, nasopharynx, larynx, trachea, and alveoli with stimulation of each region resulting in unique cardiopulmonary responses. These responses include apnea, hyperpnea, coughing and gasping (Widdicombe and Lee 2001) which may ultimately result in accelerated respiration, involuntary inhalation and increased alertness (McCrory 2006;Velasquez 2011). Subsequent large oscillations in heart rate, systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure, and associated changes in peripheral blood flow, may put an individual at risk of syncope (Julu et al. 2003). ...
Full-text available
Purpose: Ammonia is used as a stimulant in strength based sports to increase arousal and offset fatigue however little is known about its physiological and performance effects. The purpose of this study was twofold (1) establish the physiological response to acute ammonia inhalation (2) determine whether the timing of the physiological response corresponds with a performance enhancement, if any. Methods: Fifteen healthy males completed two trials. Trial one investigated the beat-to-beat middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCAv), heart rate (HR) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) response to ammonia inhalation. During trial two, participants performed a maximal single mid-thigh pull (MTP) at various time points following ammonia inhalation in a randomised order: MTPs were conducted immediately, 15, 30 and 60 s following ammonia inhalation. A MTP with no ammonia inhalation served as the control. During this trial maximal MTP force, rate of force development (RFD) and electromyography (EMG) activity were recorded. Results: MCAvmean increased and peaked on average by 6 cm s(-1) (P < 0.001), 9.4 ± 5.5 s following ammonia inhalation. Similarly, HR was increased by 6 ± 11 beats per minute 15 s following ammonia inhalation (P < 0.001). MAP remained unchanged following inhalation (P = 0.51). The use and timing of ammonia inhalation had no effect on maximal force, RFD or EMG (all P > 0.2) compared to control. Conclusions: MCAv was elevated despite no increase in MAP occurring; this is indicative of a cerebrovascular vasodilation. Despite the marked cerebrovascular and cardiovascular response to ammonia inhalation no ergogenic effect was observed during the MTP, irrespective of the timing of administration.
... The stimulus response through the olfactory nerve, one of the body's five senses, has been reported as a component of the nervous system that responds immediately without going through a sensory process, unlike other sensory organs [15,16]. To improve their performance, powerlifters, American footballers, and ice-hockey players use ammonia salt inhalants during or just before sporting events [17,18]. It has already been suggested through previous studies that various scents of olfactory stimulation affect cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and physiological variables [19]. ...
Full-text available
Some athletes utilize olfactory inhalation treatments using ammonia salt and aromatic oils to attain their peak performance or for physical and psychological relaxation. However, there is still a lack of clear evidence on olfactory inhalation treatment and scent types via precise experiments, and there is no research regarding fine motor control performance in activities such as golf putting. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of various olfactory inhalations (lavender, citrus, and ammonia) on professional golfers’ 3-meter putting performance (percentage of success), postural stability (CoP area), and heart rate (HR). In order to examine the effects of olfactory treatment on actual automated task performance, ten professional golfers were recruited for the putting task experiment. During the putting task, a biometric shirt was utilized to record the HR changes, and a force plate was used to measure changes in the CoP area. The results were as follows. First, the olfactory inhalation treatment inhibited the putting performance (no inhalation: 68.75%; lavender: 51.25%; citrus: 40.00%; ammonia: 52.50%); however, no statistically significant difference was found (p = 0.115). Second, the olfactory inhalation treatment inhibited postural stability while putting; it had a partially statistically significant lower value (address: p = 0.000; downswing: p = 0.035; total putting section: p = 0.047). Third, the olfactory inhalation treatment decreased the HR during putting; however, there was no statistically significant difference between groups (address: p = 0.838; putting: p = 0.878; total: p = 0.666). This study implies that olfactory inhalation affects putting performance, postural stability, and HR. The effect size results for the olfactory treatment in the CoP area during the putting task (address: η2 = 0.524; downswing: η2 = 0.349; total putting section: η2 = 0.298) suggest that arousal regulation through olfactory inhalation may have negative effects on dynamic postural stability in static tasks such as golf putting, showing the direction of its useful application for athletes in sports.
... Indeed, for ammonia odor, some studies have postulated that it would be the irritation of the lungs and the nose in response to the stimulating odor inhalation that would triggers an inhalation reflex, causing rapid inhalation. It would then results in better and faster work from the breathing muscles, causing an increase in alertness [31,32]. This process might explain the results obtained in both studies, while the nonsignificant one [26] evaluated the strength and the significant one [22] the participants' feelings during the strength task. ...
Full-text available
Fewer and fewer people are reaching physical activity recommendations. Therefore, it seems important to make the practice of physical activity more enjoyable to increase the participation rate. Several environmental factors have been studied to see their impact on sports practice, and some studies investigated the effect of odors. This systematic review aims to provide a thorough view of the literature on the effect of different odors on physical activity. The search strategy consisted of using index terms and keywords in MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBM Reviews - Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science search engine. Data from 19 studies that included 421 participants revealed that the odors had different results on strength, cardiovascular, precision, and postural balance tasks depending on the odors' exposition. Among results, an important distinction was made between pleasant and unpleasant odors. Therefore, pleasant odors had better results on physical activity by improving participants' feeling. Even though this review clarified evidence about the effect of odors on physical activity, better methodological consistency is needed across studies such as the odor administration method to produce more meaningful results.
... Ammonia dependent vasodilation constitutes a cardiovascular response and may provide a stimulatory effect (14). Some authors have suggested that ammonia inhalants may complicate the evaluation of injury during competitions A C C E P T E D by masking signs and symptoms of injury; thus they discourage the use of AI during sport contests (22). ...
The aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of ammonia inhalants on lower body power and maximal isometric strength in trained men. Twenty experienced resistance trained men (age = 26.7 ± 3.7 y; body weight = 80.59 ± 9.0 kg; body height = 179.5 ± 5.7 cm) were tested for counter movement jump power (CMJP), maximal force and rate of force development (pRFD20) expressed during an isometric mid-thigh pull (IMTP). Assessments were performed using either an ammonia salt inhalants (AI), a placebo (PL) or no inhalants (N). One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures was used to compare strength and power performance between the different trials. A significant (p < 0.01) increase in pRFD20 was detected following the use of AI. No significant effects of trial were noted for CMJP and IMTP maximal force (p = 0.251 and p = 0.075, respectively). Results of the present study showed a potential ergogenic effect of AI on rate of force development (i.e, explosive force output), with a trend towards an improvement in maximal force production. The mechanism of action may be related to the stimulatory action of AI often reported by athletes as a "psyching-up" effect. The positive effect of AI on the rate of force development may represent an advantage in sports requiring high rates of force production.
Purpose: Ammonia inhalants (NH3) are anecdotally used in competition by athletes for their purported stimulant effects. However, evidence on the efficacy of NH3 is conflicting, and little to no studies to date have investigated its effect on repeated exercise. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of NH3 on psychophysiological responses and performance during repeated high-intensity exercise. Methods: In a counterbalanced crossover design, physically active females completed two repeated high-intensity sprint trials with a different treatment: Control (CON; water) or Ammonia Inhalants (NH3; 0.33 cc). For each trial, participants completed 3 × 15s Wingate anaerobic tests (WAnT) separated by 2 min of active recovery. Prior to each WAnT, participants took a single 3-s inhale of the corresponding treatment. After the succession of each WAnT, heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were documented. Subjective feelings of alertness and “psyched up” energy were measured using a visual analog scale. Trials were separated by at least 48 hr. Results: The results indicate that over the WAnTs, mean power (p = .017) and peak power (p = .006) were significantly higher with NH3 compared to CON despite a lack of changes in fatigue index (p = .928). HR (p = .101) and RPE (p = .897) were not different with varying treatments. Perceived alertness (p = .010) and psyched-up energy (p = .002) were significantly higher with NH3 versus CON. Conclusion: These findings provide empirical support for the use of NH3 to improve repeated high-intensity exercise performance in females that may be underpinned by alterations in subjective alertness and energy.
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Ammonia Inhalants (AIs) have been suspected to enhance athletic performance through an increased awareness and subsequent increase in physical strength. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of AIs on strength performance. Twenty-five college-aged males with at least 3 yrs of resistance training experience performed as many repetitions as possible with the back squat and bench press at 85% of one repetition maximum (1RM) after inhaling either AIs or placebo (Vick's® VapoRub®, VVR). There were no significant differences between the number of repetitions performed in the back squat (P = 0.403) or the bench press (P = 0.422) after inhaling the AIs compared to the VVR. While no differences in performance were observed, many individuals may still continue to use AIs. Therefore, if an individual has no pre-existing medical conditions and feels that AIs improve performance, there appears to be no contraindications to using low doses.
This article has no abstract; the first 100 words appear below. To the Editor: We observed a patient with respiratory insufficiency due to chronic obstructive lung disease who appeared to benefit from the ventilatory stimulation of aromatic ammonia ampules. A 56-year-old man was hospitalized with severe emphysema. Despite intensive medical management, his condition deteriorated and he refused intubation. When the partial pressure of arterial carbon dioxide (PaCO2) rose from 95 to 126 torr and the partial pressure of arterial oxygen (PaO2) fell to 36 torr, he became somnolent. An aromatic ammonia ampule was crushed and taped to the inside of his Venturi mask. The patient awakened. His . . .
Case reports of sudden death during exertion have not established an association between the sickle-cell trait (hemoglobin AS) and exercise-related death. To test this association, all deaths occurring among 2 million enlisted recruits during basic training in the U.S. Armed Forces in 1977 to 1981 were classified from autopsy and clinical records as non-sudden deaths or as sudden deaths explained or unexplained by preexisting disease. On the basis of known numbers of entering recruits (according to race, age, and sex) and published prevalence rates for hemoglobin AS (8 percent for black and 0.08 percent for nonblack recruits), death rates (per 100,000) were 32.2 for sudden unexplained deaths, 2.7 for sudden explained deaths, and 0 for non-sudden deaths among black recruits with hemoglobin AS, as compared with 1.2, 1.2, and 0.7 among black recruits without hemoglobin S and 0.7, 0.5, and 1.1 among nonblack recruits without hemoglobin S. Among black recruits the relative risk of sudden unexplained death (hemoglobin AS vs. non-hemoglobin S) was 27.6 (95 percent confidence interval, 9 to 100; P less than 0.001), whereas among all recruits this risk was 39.8 (95 percent confidence interval, 17 to 90; P less than 0.001). The relative risk of sudden unexplained death among all recruits increased with age (P less than 0.04), from 13 (ages 17 to 18) to 95 (ages 26 to 30). We conclude that recruits in basic training with the sickle-cell trait have a substantially increased, age-dependent risk of exercise-related sudden death unexplained by any known preexisting cause.
Stop sale, use of ''smelling salts
  • R Reynolds
Reynolds R. Stop sale, use of ''smelling salts'' [letter]. Family Practitioner Report Online. 10: 2004.
Ammonia inhalants: Not to be taken lightly Available at: http://www. Rodenberg/Ammonia_Inhalants.html. Accessed
  • H Rodenberg
Rodenberg H. Ammonia inhalants: Not to be taken lightly. Available at: http://www. Rodenberg/Ammonia_Inhalants.html. Accessed: March 8, 2010.
Warm up; smelling salts
  • P Mccrory
McCrory P. Warm up; smelling salts. Br J Sports Med 40: 659-660, 2006.
Ammonia inhalants: Not to be taken lightly
  • H Rodenberg
Rodenberg H. Ammonia inhalants: Not to be taken lightly. Available at: http://www. Rodenberg/Ammonia_Inhalants.html. Accessed: March 8, 2010. Strength and Conditioning Journal |