Aromatherapy PROVEN by science: Rosemary aroma shown to significantly improve memory capabilities in children

Breathe in the goodness of rosemary! Scientists are acknowledging the herb’s ability to improve cognitive ability in children. A new study presented at the British Psychology Society Annual Conference highlighted a distinct difference in working memory between children exposed to rosemary essential oil and those who weren’t. Dr. Mark Ross, the co-author of the observational review said on, “Our previous study demonstrated the aroma of rosemary essential oil could enhance cognition in healthy adults. Knowing how important working memory is in academic achievement we wanted to see if similar effects could be found in school age children in classroom settings.”

For the purpose of this study, 40 children aged 10 to 11 were asked to answer a series of tests. The children were randomly assigned to a room that was either infused with rosemary oil or a room with no scent. Each child was tested individually. Researchers saw that children in the rosemary-scented room received significantly higher scores than children in the non-scented room. In particular, children performed the best in recall when breathing in rosemary. Dr. Moss said that children exposed to rosemary had, on average, an improvement of five to seven percent in test scores.

“Why and how rosemary has this effect is still up for debate. It could be that aromas affect electrical activity in the brain or that pharmacologically active compounds can be absorbed when adults are exposed,” Dr. Moss suggested. “We do know that poor working memory is related to poor academic performance and these findings offers a possible cost effective and simple intervention to improve academic performance in children. The time is ripe for large-scale trials of aroma application in education settings.”

A needle-like herb for blade-like memory

Rosemary’s ability to improve memory has been the topic of interest for many scientists. For years, rosemary had been prescribed for memory problems. Recall Ophelia’s heartfelt declaration in Hamlet to her brother Laertes: “there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Sure, Shakespeare wasn’t a doctor, but it does speak of how people even from long ago saw the many health benefits of this perennial herb. Science is now trying to validate its power and this study by Dr. Moss is seen as a step in the right direction.

In as early as 2003, researchers were noting the direct impact rosemary essential oil had on mental clarity. The study, led by the very same Dr. Moss, concluded, “rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors.”

A 2012 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggested that dried rosemary leaf powder improved cognitive performance among the elderly. The authors of this study clarified that this could imply further uses of rosemary extending beyond applying it as an oil.

Other studies performed by Dr. Moss suggested that sniffing rosemary oil can increase memory by as much as 75 percent.

Other benefits

Rosmarinus offinalis belongs to the same family as mint, but has its own distinctive flavor. The woody herb has a more bitter and astringent taste making it a wonderful seasoning to various soups, sauces, and stews. Gastronomical advantages aside, Organic Facts lists other health benefits to take note of, including:

  • It improves mood — There is evidence that suggests that smelling rosemary improves mood and clears the mind. Researchers note that aromatherapy-based treatments that use rosemary oil help patients suffering from chronic anxiety.
  • It soothes the stomach — Other studies find rosemary to be an ideal natural remedy for an upset stomach.
  • It relieves pain — Rosemary is also an analgesic. Alternative therapists use the herb as a paste or salve for pain relief.

Because rosemary is perennial, it can be grown all-year long and enjoyed for its multiple health benefits.

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