Looking at the needles and colorful flowers of a rosemary plant doesn’t indicate it’s amazing potential for human body. It’s been used in aromatics, cosmetics, and medicine for flu and headaches, but recent studies have unveiled an amazing new use for rosemary: enhancing your mental capability and improving your memory by 75%.
Smelling Rosemary to Enhance Your Memory
One might think the next huge development in mental development would be a computer chip implanted into the brain. It turns out, enhancing your memory is much easier and far less invasive, not to mention it uses completely natural methods.
Aromatherapy is one of the most evasive forms of alternative medicine, sometimes with results backed by science and other times complete pseudo-science. The truth of the matter is that the olfactory system has a direct correlation to the brain. They depend on each other to form the reality we perceive, which is why so many scholars have taken an interest in aromatherapy. You can get more information about aromatherapy and how to use essential oils to unlock their amazing healing power in my e-book Magical Aromatherapy.
I’ll be discussing several studies on rosemary and what they’ve unveiled about the plant’s potential over recent decades, but first, a historical look back will help us understand the depth of rosemary’s involvement in human history.
The History of Rosemary Research
Greek mythology describes the god of beauty and love, Aphrodite, originating from the sea with rosemary draped over her body. The Middle Ages saw the frequent use during wedding ceremonies and funerals, as well as mixed into alcoholic drinks to restore vitality.
During the late 14th century in England, known as the country’s golden age under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I, rosemary was described in Shakespeare’s Hamlet as the “herb of remembrance”. It mainly served as a memorial symbol during times of commemoration, but were humans subconsciously linking the effects of rosemary on memory?
What Makes Rosemary Work?
There are several biologically active compounds within rosemary that give it therapeutic potential. Antioxidants such as rosmarinic and carnosic acid protect living cells from radiation and carcinogens and also exhibit antimicrobial effects (according to Wikipedia). Other compounds found in rosemary such as caffeic acid, camphor, rosmanol and betulinic acid all have potential to interact positively with living cells. But how does any of this come into play if we’re simply smelling the plant?
Smell and Memory
There has been research linking the senses to memory, especially smell. Some people smell their father’s aftershave, their wife’s perfume, or the type of flowers growing around their childhood home and are instantly stricken with unearthed memories.
The studies discussed below build on the connection between smell and memory in a more scientific way. Experts go beyond the psychological science and look at chemical interactions that bind smell with cognitive function. Thanks to them, a clear connection has been made, proving that rosemary’s scent can indeed make your memory stronger – by up to 75 percent.
Scientific studies on rosemary made their first major leap in 1987 when the Planta Medica journal published a study backed by four scientists on the plant’s effect on mice. They found that the levels of 1,8-cineole in the blood and locomotion capability were increased after the critters inhaled rosemary oil. Cineole, more commonly known as eucalyptol, is compound that comprises the majority of eucalyptus oil.
Eucalyptol has been used medicinally and in food for years. A 2012 study by Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver stated that “performance on cognitive tasks is significantly related to concentration of absorbed 1,8-cineole.” This was the first definitive sign that rosemary could indeed have biological effects through inhalation, but it certainly wasn’t the last development in research of the herb.
The next scientific development came in 1998 with a study in the International Journal of Neuroscience. Nine individuals from the University of Miami School of Medicine moved from rats to humans in their application of rosemary. There were 40 adults that were given several minutes of aromatherapy, some with lavender and others with rosemary. Each participant was given math problems to solve before and after the therapy.
What the study found was that the lavender participants came out of aromatherapy with increased drowsiness and relaxed. They did better on the math problems, but not as quickly as other participants. Those who inhaled rosemary experienced increased alertness and less anxiety. They were able to finish the problems much faster.
The experts weren’t completely satisfied with these results, and future testing was in their scope. In January of 2003, the International Journal of Neuroscience published a similar study that involved more people and intricate testing. In this study, 144 participants were divided into three groups: one that was exposed to no smell, one exposed to lavender and another exposed to rosemary. They weren’t told the exact purpose of the study to keep from placebo interference. A Cognitive Drug Research assessment that tested six different aspects of mental function was administered to each group in a small cubicle. The rosemary group experienced an unexpected boost in the quality of their memory performance. The groups that didn’t experience rosemary lagged behind in testing, and the proof of essential oils interacting with cognitive ability was solidified even further.
A more recent study conducted by the Herbal Medicine Department of the Tai Sophia Institute in 2012 tested the effect of rosemary leaf powder on people over the age of 75. It found that the dosage taken played a pivotal role in how the participants’ memory functioned.
There are other herbs that can improve your memory and brain function and you can read all about them in my post The Best Herbs to Improve Memory and Brain Function. This post also includes brain enhancer tonic recipe. There are also certain foods that can improve your memory and you can read about them in my post Improve Memory With These Foods. Building a strong brain is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
Rosemary is indeed a super herb and in addition to improving your memory, you can use rosemary for treating hair loss. You can also make your own household cleaners and skin care products with rosemary (press on the previous links to read my previous posts about these subjects).