Enhancing Athletic Performance with Peppermint

Enhancing Athletic Performance with Peppermint
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Study finds remarkable improvements in exercise performance drinking homemade peppermint water, but there may be side effects.

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Ever since smoking was prohibited in nightclubs, customers have increasingly noted unpleasant smells, such as body odors, so researchers in Europe thought they’d try to cover them up. They measured the effects of peppermint, for example on dancing activity and asked people to rate their energy level from calm and quiet to what looks like suicide bomber level, and indeed people felt more cheerful, danced more and so environmental fragrancing may be expected to have positive effects on club revenue. And so innovative nightclubs are already inviting aroma jockeys to smell the places up.

The business community caught whiff of this and thought hey, maybe we can get our secretaries to type faster. And it worked! Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with the administration of peppermint odor. They also used an electronic memory device to measure memory, Milton Bradley’s Simon—remember that? But it didn’t work. It did not improve memory. Still, if the scent of peppermint can increase typing performance, what about athletic performance?

In an age where athletic competitions are frequently won or lost by mere hundredths of a second, athletes are continually looking for new ways to excel in their sport. They threw some collegiate athletes onto a treadmill and piped different smells into their nostrils, and those on peppermint reported feeling less fatigued, more vigorous, less frustrated, and  felt they just performed better. But did they actually perform better?

The first study was just about the psychological aspects of athletic performance. This study measured actual performance, and participants were able to squeeze out one extra pushup before collapsing and cut almost two seconds off a quarter-mile dash with an odorized adhesive strip stuck to their upper lip. Interestingly there was no significant difference in basketball free throws. They think the reason is that free throws actually require some skill, and all the peppermint can do is really improve athletes’ motivation. If an athlete does not have the skill to make the free throw, increasing the level of motivation will merely result in a more motivated athlete who still does not have the skill to make the free throw.

Unfortunately, follow-up studies were not able to replicate these results, showing no beneficial effect of smelling peppermint on athletic performance, but what about eating peppermint? The effects of peppermint on exercise performance, measured before and after ten days of drinking bottles of water with a single drop of peppermint essential oil in them. And all their performance parameters shot up: churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion. With improvements across the board in all the fancy physiological alphabet soup parameters that all the exercise geeks love, indicating increased respiratory efficiency. They attribute these remarkable results to the peppermint opening up their airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery.

Now you can OD on the stuff. Peppermint oil is powerful stuff. Some woman tried chugging a bottle in an unsuccessful but nearly successful suicide attempt, but a few drops shouldn’t be toxic. I’d rather see folks blending fresh mint leaves into water rather than using the oil to get some dark green leafies in, kind of like a mojito without the rum and sugar.

Now heavy mint consumption may lower libido. There are reports of men drinking four cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea losing their sex drive, though frankly, that may improve athletic performance even more—helping to keep their heads in the game. Because of the anti-androgenic effects, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just five days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day. There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can be successfully brought down with mint tea.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Hannes Grobe via Wikimedia Commons.

Ever since smoking was prohibited in nightclubs, customers have increasingly noted unpleasant smells, such as body odors, so researchers in Europe thought they’d try to cover them up. They measured the effects of peppermint, for example on dancing activity and asked people to rate their energy level from calm and quiet to what looks like suicide bomber level, and indeed people felt more cheerful, danced more and so environmental fragrancing may be expected to have positive effects on club revenue. And so innovative nightclubs are already inviting aroma jockeys to smell the places up.

The business community caught whiff of this and thought hey, maybe we can get our secretaries to type faster. And it worked! Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with the administration of peppermint odor. They also used an electronic memory device to measure memory, Milton Bradley’s Simon—remember that? But it didn’t work. It did not improve memory. Still, if the scent of peppermint can increase typing performance, what about athletic performance?

In an age where athletic competitions are frequently won or lost by mere hundredths of a second, athletes are continually looking for new ways to excel in their sport. They threw some collegiate athletes onto a treadmill and piped different smells into their nostrils, and those on peppermint reported feeling less fatigued, more vigorous, less frustrated, and  felt they just performed better. But did they actually perform better?

The first study was just about the psychological aspects of athletic performance. This study measured actual performance, and participants were able to squeeze out one extra pushup before collapsing and cut almost two seconds off a quarter-mile dash with an odorized adhesive strip stuck to their upper lip. Interestingly there was no significant difference in basketball free throws. They think the reason is that free throws actually require some skill, and all the peppermint can do is really improve athletes’ motivation. If an athlete does not have the skill to make the free throw, increasing the level of motivation will merely result in a more motivated athlete who still does not have the skill to make the free throw.

Unfortunately, follow-up studies were not able to replicate these results, showing no beneficial effect of smelling peppermint on athletic performance, but what about eating peppermint? The effects of peppermint on exercise performance, measured before and after ten days of drinking bottles of water with a single drop of peppermint essential oil in them. And all their performance parameters shot up: churning out 50% more work, 20% more power, and a 25% greater time to exhaustion. With improvements across the board in all the fancy physiological alphabet soup parameters that all the exercise geeks love, indicating increased respiratory efficiency. They attribute these remarkable results to the peppermint opening up their airways, increasing ventilation and oxygen delivery.

Now you can OD on the stuff. Peppermint oil is powerful stuff. Some woman tried chugging a bottle in an unsuccessful but nearly successful suicide attempt, but a few drops shouldn’t be toxic. I’d rather see folks blending fresh mint leaves into water rather than using the oil to get some dark green leafies in, kind of like a mojito without the rum and sugar.

Now heavy mint consumption may lower libido. There are reports of men drinking four cups of day of spearmint or peppermint tea losing their sex drive, though frankly, that may improve athletic performance even more—helping to keep their heads in the game. Because of the anti-androgenic effects, researchers decided to try it out on hairy women, and in a matter of just five days were able to drop their free testosterone levels by about 30% with two cups of tea a day. There’s actually a syndrome called PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can result in abnormally high testosterone levels in women, which can be successfully brought down with mint tea.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Hannes Grobe via Wikimedia Commons.

Doctor's Note

Sometimes aromatherapy may actually help, though:

Beet juice can also enhance athletic performance. See the dozen or so videos in the series starting with Doping With Beet Juice. Other ways healthy food can synergize with exercise:

I use peppermint in my Pink Juice with Green Foam recipe and talk about using the dried in Antioxidants in a Pinch.

Some other tea caveats, though:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

76 responses to “Enhancing Athletic Performance with Peppermint

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    1. If that were true, then the paleo diet should show the same or similar benefits. In the literature, it doesn’t even come close.
      This can also be refuted by studies that look at vegans, who often consume a lot of processed foods, but no animal products. While many vegans eschew processed foods, most do not. Whole Foods admits that 60% of their sales are vegan junk foods.
      Again, if it was just processed vs not, processed-food eating vegans wouldn’t have better health outcomes than whole food paleo folks.




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      1. I would have to see more research on this as it’s stated that peppermint lowers testosterone. And general lower levels of testosterone reduce athletic performance.
        So, I find this as suspect.




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    1. That probably has as much to do with how females choose who is attractive and worthy,
      as it does with the males their drive to stand out from the crowd.
      Two sides of the same coin. Wanna solve world peace? Louie ck has a suggestion but you are not gonna like it ^^:
      http://youtu.be/Ohbv6haI1aQ




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      1. Some are God’s instrument but this soul, from this video, is Satan’s instrument. It is the best, in all this circus show, how crowd are laughing at his spoken words of non-sense and his words of disregard of others. Even by watching and hearing those abominations, some poor, skinny, un-informed so called smelly guy could take his life because he can’t stand to live his life without even touching boobs on some female body or can’t have regard for himself because there is no a single being in this world, who could touch his genitals. But world doesn’t know that just single souls are those more lucky souls who have settled majority of their karmic debts so now, when all we live our last lives, they live freely, not totally, indeed, because the worst bondage is that bondage of the mind but it is better for the human soul to have only that subtle bondage in it’s mind then to live with also that subtle bondage and also with that real, physical bondage with a partner with whom they, those degraded sinner souls do that monkey business. Poor brother souls. Lustful souls will pay the highest price at the end. They even can’t imagine why our the Spiritual Father, God, says that His children are now worse than monkeys. For example, the souls who reside in the male bodies, they just received, from God, their genitals to be touched by the hands of other human beings! You may think about it! This is complete ignorance. Also, we received our lips not to do dirty things with them (which exclusively sinners do), but we got them to speak sweet words of respect, words of eternal spiritual wisdom to other brother souls, also that we give a smile to others. Did you hear a term, a lotus lips? Only such lips give happiness. People are all turned upside down. It is visible from, again, this video that the end is near and that so many will get what they deserve. This soul who wrote this text every day is writing and writing the God’s message everywhere on the internet but one such ignorant soul as this up above makes huge damage in just a half hour of it’s circus show. They say, The knowledge is might! But those souls, from up above, out of some deep reasons, don’t have a right to it. So pity.




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        1. Well o.k., thank you for that, I never looked at it that way, I feel much enlightened.
          Indebted to you for proving some points.




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          1. Dear brother soul, do you know that your name, only written a little differently “Aryan” means “a reformed one” so this your brother soul hopes that God will definitely find you in this world where ignorance and sorrow rule for so long. But all that is finishing now. Thank God! :)
            Regards
            BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY with GOD SHIVA




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      1. Well, on second thought, if we ALL grew in our relationship with The Lord and truly put Him first the world would be what God intended it to be filled with peace, love understanding, grace etc!




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                1. Thank you so much! Lots of different people use this website, from all kinds of regions and circumstances. It helps the comments be pleasant and productive when we can be respectful of that diversity.




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              1. If anything I am always stunned by the ease with which religious people unburden themselves of all earthly reason and accountability. All for the sake of personal peace of mind, so they can enjoy their food without stomach upset.




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    1. You, it seems, imagined that you are God. Please, be silent, because by living in this dirty world you can’t extract a piece of wisdom from anywhere. Also, onion goes in the category of tamasic, impure food and it helps, if any, only to those who eat meat. That is Devil’s product. In that Paradise that is in front of minority of us, such smelly things even didn’t exist. So, please, in the name of that your Spiritual Father, God Himself and in the name of this your brother soul, save yourself and others by not spreading words that are not confirmed by God Shiva. Because, a return will be that of repentance.
      BRAHMA KUMARIS WORLD SPIRITUAL UNIVERSITY together with GOD SHIVA




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  1. Any suggestions on dandruff? I tried most of the common shampoos like Selsum Blue and etc nothing seems to really help. I’m doin ACV and tea tree now. It helps. Still really bad.




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    1. I know this sounds really weird but I wanted to cut back on chemical exposure (and costs) and was trying to experiment with eliminating shampoo, so tried the suggestion of using a tsp of baking soda in a cup of water instead, and “shampooing” with that, (no lather, just feels kind of slippery) and then rinse that out, followed by maybe another tsp or a bit more of cider vinegar in a cup of water, followed by a final rinse. The lack of lather feels disconcerting, but I was really surprised at how well it worked not only on my hair, but the dandruff problem I had for so long! I bet infusing the vinegar with some herbs noted for their specific benefits might help even more if you still needed it! Give it at least 2 consecutive tries, preferably more, and see if it helps! Serious!




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      1. Baking soda is extremely alkaline, and this is damaging to your hair. The chemical bonds of your hair are breaking, then the vinegar (very acidic) is re-setting your hair by balancing the pH.

        Processing your hair with baking soda and vinegar is akin to any other chemical process, like relaxers, permanent waves, or haircoloring. And if you “shampoo” every day, that’s even worse.

        Before anyone moves to using baking soda/vinegar as their hair wash X times a month, please ask yourself if you would get a perm or color your hair that many times per month.




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    2. I had a lot of dandruff growing up, somewhere in the adjustment to eating more health i figured out the problem. Excessive salts or sugars creates the dry skin; potato chips being the worst food to eat. This is my personal experience, can’t say the same will be true for others.




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  2. Just a question, although unrelated to this particular video… It’s known that absorption of certain vitamins and minerals (iron, calcium..) is limited to so much at a certain time due to various factors, one being the availability of transport proteins/carriers in the intestine. If these carriers can reach a transport maximum and become “saturated” then not as much can be absorbed at once, so therefore it’s better to spread out intake throughout the day rather than in one meal. Would this rationalizing apply also to phytonutrients such as sulfuraphane? Would it be better to spread out cruciferous vegetable intake rather than together in one giant salad for example?




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    1. Are you using an older version of Google Chrome? My work computer has that, and the videos don’t play. I have no problem at home with my Mac Mini and Safari.




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    1. How much is that by weight? I find volume based descriptions to be too vague because a lightly packed 1/4 cup and a tightly packed will have dramatically different amounts. Thanks.




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  3. I wonder what other benefits have been proven with peppermint. Anybody know? I see from another video that they are very high in anti-oxidants.




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    1. I use it for stomach problems sometimes, for some types of discomfort of the stomach it can be very powerful and fast acting.
      Its not suitable for continuous use though, it is to harsh an irritant for that.




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  4. Sorry for my ignorance, I’m just learning about what constitutes a “good” vs. “bad” study. It’s my understanding that a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind study is the gold standard and that studies with few subjects (like two of the studies mentioned here; one only had 20 and the other 40 subjects) are not very “good”. Am I missing something with the studies cited here? Are they “good” studies or just “ok” studies?… Thanks so much!




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    1. Hi Tara, I don’t think your question is an ignorant one in the least! I would agree that a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with the descriptors you mentioned offer plenty of benefits including the potential to infer causality. We can learn a whole lot from other types of studies as well though. One prospective study for example (note that this is different from an RCT) offered the scientific community a hint that perhaps vitamin E supplementation might increase the risk of heart disease in women, a helpful finding that encouraged further research. As Dr. Greger notes, follow-up research later confirmed that vitamin E supplementation “reduces healthy, illness free months from your lifespan.” So while RCT’s can be great, other types of studies have their place as well. I appreciate your curiosity about study design and hope this helps clarify things a bit!




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  5. Great video! I usually have water with lemon in the morning to give me a boost of energy. I will definitely try this out with my peppermint essential oil!




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  6. Can you please give me information about Maca Root and how it effects the body? Is it healthy? Is it safe? Is it actually good for hormones/fertility? What about PCOS, would it have a positive effect? I have PCOS, Insulin Resistance & High DHEA are my only known imbalances. I have read Maca will make me more masculine & I have also read it can cause heart palpitations & is a stimulant. I also read gelatinized is best, but concentrated. Please help.




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    1. Hi Ava. Thanks for reposting your question. Maca root may be used to improve sexual function. In a petri dish there appears to be antioxidant activity. ​There seems to be some concern with psychological symptoms​ from taking maca. ​I am unsure how much is deemed unsafe. I would speak with your doctors about their recommendations for usage. We have information about women’s health on our site. I think you’ll find some valuable resources.

      Lastly, one study The optimal diet for women with polycystic ovary syndrome?. The researchers conclude more studies are needed, but it appears “a diet low in saturated fat and high in fibre from predominantly low-glycaemic-index-carbohydrate foods is recommended.”
      ​. ​​




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      1. Is there anything that can lower DHEA? Also, is there any information about the cause of PCOS? I keep hearing it is Insulin Resistance, but my Insulin/Glucose were only midly resistant, but my DHEA is three times too high. I don’t see Insulin as preceeding the high DHEA due to DHEA being so high and Insulin/Glucose not as bad. I have read about Spearmint Tea being able to lessen hirsutism in PCOS women, but by what mechanism? Does it lower a particular androgen or all of them? I also read both Spearmint and Peppermint tea are unsafe, is this true and what is the safe amount?
        Also, what about Saw Palmetto? I read it can cause sterility/impotence/permanent loss of libido. Is this true and were any of these effects reported by women? Does it lower all or a particular androgen? Thanks.




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        1. Hi ava ~ I also have PCOS and I have found that changing my diet (cutting out sugar and meat and really reducing carbs) and getting more exercise, along with taking cinnamon tablets and sprinkling cinnamon in things often, has pretty much stopped my pcos! For me at least, the most important thing was to eat low glycemic. I don’t know anything about DHEA but it is an interesting connection that I would also like to know more about.




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    1. Hi, Cori. Not sure if you were asking me or the dietitian, but yes. Spearmint tea was shown to reduce hirsutism in women with PCOS. Peppermint has nothing to do with that study. I don’t recall if they just theorized the Spearmint lowered T due to the hirsutism reduction or if they actually measured. Surely they measured it.

      Thanks for your advice. Exercise and good diet hasn’t decreased my androgenic symptoms…at least not yet. I recently went low fat. I’ll see.




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      1. For me, fat became my new friend. Maybe not saturated fat from animal products (although I do still use butter a fair bit), but lots of nuts and nut butters and olive oil and avocados ~ all those things helped lower my glycemic load and helped me feel full and less hungry. Usually when you take the fat out of a meal it spikes the blood sugar a little more. I think it is also really helpful to loss a little weight (I did not loose much, just a few pounds, but it helped a lot) Apparently all the wigged out hormones are produced in stored body fat. But we all have to find what works for us. Good luck! Thanks for answering my question!




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        1. Hi Cori. I posted a lot of new information about PCOS on my Q&A page if interested. Don’t think there is a huge difference between the mints, but Ava is right is did not look at peppermint. It still may be a good choice.




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  7. Hi Dr Greger, Whats your opinion on the safety with spironolactone as a treatment for hyperandrogenism? I don’t have high total or free testosterone , but I do have some of the symptoms of hyperandrogenism. I definitely see that a low fat plant based diet and exercise helps tremendously, but I don’t know if it will be enough to cure all the symptoms and how long it will take. I am considering taking spiro for a few months while working on diet and exercise and then weaning off of it. I was wondering how safe you think the drug is and if there is a rebound effect. I thought maybe bec. it blocks rather than reduces testosterone levels it may be better for me since despite having symptoms of hyperangrogenism my levels are on the low side. Thanks for this video (and all your videos) I drink spearmint tea and will now start eating mint leaves :)




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  8. Concerning the last study featured in the video: can peppermint or mint tea reduce testosterone levels in men and suppress male sexual features? Could the loss or reduction of libido featured in the video be due to decreased testosterone levels in men?

    Does mint tea reduce testosterone levels in women with normal testosterone levels or only in women with abnormally high testosterone levels?

    Thanks! :)




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  9. Is there a specific type of essential oil that is best? I’ve looked online and there are all sorts of offerings with dramatically different percentages of the active ingredient and with varying levels of purity. None that I saw

    were recommend for ingestion. All were for topical use only. So bottom line, which oil is both safe to ingest and effective?
    Thanks.




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  10. Pubmed returns 6 studies of peppermint and testosterone (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=peppermint+testosterone) the ones showing a negative effect was on rats, and we know rats can have a very different response to this kind of thing. The other human study was on women, but it was spearmint and not peppermint, and it was a small sample size. So how are we so sure it’s going to be the same for men eating peppermint? I want to increase my athletic performance as much as the next guy, but I don’t want it to come at a cost of my testosterone.

    Also how much peppermint do we need to see the benefits? I’ve seen widely varying amounts in this comments section from 1-6g of leaves. 0.05 ml of the oil is a tiny amount. I’d assume you wouldn’t need that much.




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  11. Dear dr. Greger,

    Is there any research out there how to boost your hematocrit on a plantbased diet? That is my weak spot as an endurance athlete. I find it very difficult to get a hematocrit of +40 (as a woman) and during hard trainingweeks it can even drop to 35-36. Training on altitude is no option because it demands too much of my body. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!




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  12. Hi Sandra,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question!

    Your hematocrit level does not seem low. Normal range of hematocrit is between 35 and 44.5%. However, if you do find yourself on the lower end and want to boost your levels, ensure that you have sufficient intakes of iron (make sure to include vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich foods), and folate (vegetables, especially dark leafy green vegetables). Also make sure that you are keeping your calorie level high enough, especially when you are burning large amounts from exercise.

    I hope those tips help! Best of luck!




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    1. Thank you very much for your answer!

      Kind regards from Belgium

      Sandra

      Op 8 okt. 2017 17:25 schreef “whollyplantfoods” <hello@email.gopostmatic.com




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