Memory HerbRosemary for Memory

Known as a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6 the delightfully pungent Mediterranean herb apparently can also boost memory.  The name Rosemary derives from the Latin ros meaning “dew” and marinus meaning “sea” – “sea dew.”  Believed by the Ancient Greeks to sharpen wits and fortify memory, they placed garlands of the herb upon the heads of students sitting for exams. It was also purported to be the favourite scent of Napoleon Bonaparte

According to The Telegraph:

Rosemary really is herb of remembrance, as scent boosts memory by 15 per cent, say scientists

A study of pensioners found that simply being in a room diffused with the smell of rosemary boosted memory test scores by 15 per cent.

University of Northumbria Study

Although it might not seem much, academics at the University of Northumbria say it could mean the difference between remembering to take medication, or not, which could prove life-saving.

Dr Mark Moss, head of the department of psychology at Northumbria, said: “I think that received wisdom through the ages is based on naturalistic observations of behaviour.

“We once had herbalists in every village who would have handed out lavender to sleep or chamomile to calm and their effects would have been documented over centuries and millennia. So I think people in the past did realise that rosemary had an effect on memory.

Brain Chemistry

“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.”

Previous studies on brain tissue in the lab have shown that the compounds in rosemary can stimulate activity.

To test whether it had an impact on older people, the researchers randomly allocated 150 pensioners to a room scented with rosemary, lavender or no aroma. They were then asked to pass on a message at a given time during the procedure, and to swap tasks at a specific time, to test their memory.

Those in the rosemary room were found to perform far better on the memory tests than the other two.

British Psychological Society

Post-graduate student Lauren Bussey said: “This is the first time that similar effects have been demonstrated in the healthy over 65’s. Further investigation is required to understand the potential benefits of these aromas throughout the life span.”

The research was presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in Nottingham.

Rosemary Recipes

Both the Guardian and the Good Food website have some lovely recipes using rosemary – try one and send us a photo!



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