Posted on Sep 26, 2018, 5 p.m.
Several theories suggest different ways of improving memory, cognition, and thinking more clearly in general. One of those theories is the idea of adding rosemary to the diet may provide the brain with a boost. The question is does science support this with research?
Rosmarinus officinalis is related to the mint family of plants and is an herb with needle like leaves with flowers of white, pink, purple, or deep blue when in bloom, it is a perennial meaning that once planted it should regrow every year when the weather conditions are supportive.
This herb is often used as a spice in a wide range of culinary dishes ranging from teas to soups, and pastas to roasts, it has a somewhat bitter flavor. Rosemary is also commonly used as a perfume, and is added to shampoo, conditioner, and soaps.
There are studies that support rosemary and its effect on cognitive function. Such as one involving 28 older adults finding low doses of dried rosemary powder consumption was associated with significantly improved memory speed.
In another study participants were exposed to the aroma of rosemary while performing visual, processing, and serial subtraction tasks; it was found the higher the amount of rosemary aroma level speed and accuracy levels in tasks increased; moods were also observed to improve with aroma exposure as well.
40 school aged children placed in a room with rosemary aroma in another study found that the children demonstrated higher memory scores than the children in the other room without the rosemary aroma.
53 students aged 13-15 were found to have improved memory of images and numbers when rosemary essential oil was sprayed into the room as compared to those in another room without the scent in another study.
Several peer reviewed published studies regarding the effects of rosemary consumption have had results which are fairly consistent in showing benefits in memory that was associated with rosemary, however those were conducted on animals and it is unknown if they can be reproduced in humans.
Another theory is that rosemary appears to have antioxidant properties that may offer healing from damage within the body from free radicals.
University of Maryland Medical Center researchers have cited that rosemary appears to lower anxiety, which may increase the ability to concentrate.
While it may not be known for certain if there may be benefits from rosemary, it shows promise for boosting brain power. Additional research is required to strengthen the findings via research in humans that demonstrate consistent cognitive benefits. It is suggested to check with a medical professional before beginning any dietary supplementation as it may have the potential to interact with certain medications such as blood thinners, ACE inhibitors, lithium, diuretics, and diabetes medications.
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Filiptsova, O., Gazzavi-Rogozina, L., Timoshyna, I., Naboka, O., Dyomina, Y. and Ochkur, A. (2017). The essential oil of rosemary and its effect on the human image and numerical short-term memory. Egyptian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 4(2), pp.107-111.
Moss, M. and Oliver, L. (2012). Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2(3), pp.103-113.
Pengelly, A., Snow, J., Mills, S., Scholey, A., Wesnes, K. and Butler, L. (2012). Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function in an Elderly Population. Journal of Medicinal Food, 15(1), pp.10-17