With so much going on each day, it’s easy for small tasks to slip our minds. However, one study has found that the scent of rosemary can help improve our memory—even more of a reason to surround ourselves with plants!
Researchers at Northumbria University discovered that short-term memory retention increased by 15% among a sample of elderly people in a rosemary-infused room. Other samples in an odorless room and a lavender-infused room underperformed in the same memory tests given to those in the room with rosemary scent.
Dr. Moss, head of the Northumbria University psychology department, stated:
“My working hypothesis is that when you inhale rosemary its compounds are absorbed in the blood through the lungs and then are sent to the brain where they can actually act on your brain chemistry.”
Fifteen percent may seem like a small amount, but researches claim the increase is enough to better remember small tasks that can make a significant difference, such as remembering when to take medication.
Previous studies have found that peppermint is also beneficial for memory function and alertness. Scientists say they still have many more studies to conduct, but this initial research is the first to reveal the positive effects of rosemary on healthy individuals over age 65.
Herbs can certainly freshen up our décor and our meals, but if they can help improve our cognitive functions, that’s all the more reason to grow them in our homes and gardens.
Here are some other health benefits of rosemary:
Rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds- these are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation. Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.
Improving digestion – In Europe rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion – Germany’s Commission E has approved it for the treatment of dyspepsia. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim.
Enhancing memory and concentration – blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance, according to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.
Neurological protection – scientists have found that rosemary is also good for your brain. Rosemary contains an ingredient, carnosic acid, that is able to fight off free radical damage in the brain.
According to a study published in Cell Journal, carnosic acid “may be useful in protecting against beta amyloid-induced neurodegeneration in the hippocampus.”
Prevent brain aging – Kyoto University researchers in Japan revealed that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging.
Cancer – Research published in Oncolocy Reports found that “crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO) has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”
Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded that rosemary may be an effective herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.
In addition, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking.
Protection against macular degeneration – a study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a major component of rosemary, carnosic acid, can significantly promote eye health.
This could have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, such as age-related macular degeneration – the most common eye disease in the U.S.