Fact or Myth: Is Rosemary Good for Memory?

This is a FACT.

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia asks her brother Laertes to reflect on their father’s murder with the gentle nudge that, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” From the Elizabethan era to the Early Romantic period, rosemary was celebrated as the “herb of remembrance,” and rightly so, as recent research is now confirming that rosemary improves memory by as much as 75%.

rosemary and lavender oilRosemary Memory Enhancer

Previous studies have shown that rosemary increases alertness and improves long-term memory. Researchers at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England were interested in exploring the effects of rosemary on prospective memory. Prospective memory involves remembering to perform a task at a specific time in the future…like taking your medication or giving someone a shout-out on their birthday.

Healthy adults were exposed to different levels of rosemary oil aroma diffused in a steam fan diffuser. They underwent a series of tests that assessed prospective memory functions such as speed of recall and the ability to remember future events and complete tasks at a specific time. Participants also completed questionnaires evaluating mood. A placebo group of participants underwent the same tests without exposure to the rosemary oil aroma.

Researchers then took blood samples to measure the concentration of 1,8-cineole in the bloodstream of each volunteer. 1,8-cineole is a compound found in rosemary oil that has been shown to activate the biochemical systems involved in memory function. Results showed that the more 1,8-cineole there was in the bloodstream, the better the person’s performance on speed and accuracy tests. Those exposed to rosemary were 60-75% more likely to remember to perform tasks than those not exposed to the essential oil.

Results didn’t show a link between mood and memory, which suggests memory improvement was not effected by an increase in alertness or arousal. Results from this and other studies point to rosemary as an exciting prospective treatment for people suffering from memory impairments.

How is Rosemary Good for Memory?

When you take a whiff of rosemary, volatile molecules stimulate the olfactory nerve in your nose and are absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, memory-enhancing components of the essential oil travel via the bloodstream to the brain, where they act on memory systems.

There are many different ways to start boosting memory with rosemary. Place three to four drops of rosemary essential oil on a tissue and enjoy as the smell wafts through the air. For a longer lasting aroma, add 10 drops of rosemary oil to 2 cups of boiled water, or purchase one of the many aromatherapy diffusion products on the market.

Rosemary improves memory, but it also alleviates pain, soothes migraines, aids digestion, calms itchy scalps, and eases muscle aches. Sniff out some rosemary today!