One interesting fact is that the ancient Greeks wore rosemary springs in the hair while studying for their exams.
This amazing herb has been used to boost long-term memory and alertness for millennia. Even the famous Shakespeare mentions the incredible benefits of the rosemary in “Hamlet”.
A study conducted at the Northumbria University, Newcastle in 2003 found that smelling rosemary is related to “an enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors”.
After ten years, these scientists scientifically explained the cognitive-boosting abilities of the herb. Namely, the experts followed twenty people as they performed subtraction exercises and visual information processing tasks and other tests. They assessed the mood of the participants before and after the exposure to the rosemary scent and took blood samples.
The study involves 66 people altogether, and they were randomly assigned to either the rosemary-scented room or another room with no scent.
The findings were amazing –as the rosemary smell significantly increased memory in the participants.
Namely, people in the rosemary-scented room performed 60-75% better on remembering events to completing tasks, and also recalled things much better that the other participants.
Additionally, the blood samples showed that the blood of the participants exposed to the rosemary-scented room had detectable levels of 1,8-cineole, which is an active compound in rosemary. This means that this compound was absorbed into the bloodstream, and the higher the levels, the better the results were.
Dr. Mark Moss, which was the lead researcher, stated:
“This compound is present in rosemary but has not previously been demonstrated to be absorbed into blood plasma in humans.
It is our view that the aroma, therefore, acts like a therapeutic drug, rather than any effects being a result of the more sensory properties of the aroma. The chemicals are also believed to have directly stimulated the olfactory nerve in the nose, which could have effects on brain functioning.”
Due to the carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid content, which fight free radical damage, prevent beta-amyloid-induced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and prevent Alzheimer’s, rosemary dramatically supports brain health.
Another researcher, Jemma McCready, commented:
“We deliberately set them a lot of tasks, so it’s possible that people who multi-task could function better after sniffing rosemary oil. And, there was no link between the participants’ mood and memory. This suggests performance is not influenced as a consequence of changes in alertness or arousal.”
Dr. Mark Moss, being very optimistic and excited at the real-life implications of the study, said:
“We are focused on prospective memory, which involves the ability to remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to complete tasks at particular times.
This is critical for everyday functioning, for example when someone needs to remember to post a birthday card or to take medication at a particular time.
Plants are very complex organisms and contain many different active compounds and these vary in concentration from plant to plant and even within the same plant over the course of a day.
The accumulation of knowledge regarding possible impacts of plant aromas and extracts could potentially lead to an identification of the best combination to promote specific effects.”
Moreover, Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, who was part of this expert team, agrees and claims that the findings of this study open another perspective to explore the effects of this magnificent natural herb.
How to Use Rosemary
Experts claim that in order to enjoy the benefits of the rosemary, you should diffuse a few drops of high-quality organic essential oil using a diffuser.
You can also simply place the plant by the desk in the office or somewhere in the house. To keep your brain sharp all the time, you can mix a drop of rosemary oil in a teaspoon of coconut oil and carry it in a small cosmetic tin in your bag. Then, rub a bit on the wrists.