Rosemary’s folkloric reputation for improving memory has been validated by science. UK researchers at London’s Northumbria University found that when the essential oil of rosemary was diffused into a room—a method practiced in aromatherapy—it enhanced participants’ ability to remember past events and remind themselves to do tasks planned for the future, like sending an anniversary card.
Mark Moss, Ph.D., head of psychology at Northumbria, says, “We wanted to build on our previous research that indicated rosemary aroma improved long-term memory and mental arithmetic. In this study, we focused on prospective memory, which is critical for everyday functioning.”
In the study, 66 people randomly assigned to either a rosemary-scented or unscented room were asked to complete a variety of tests to assess their memory functions. Those in the rosemary-scented room outperformed the control group.
Blood analysis of those exposed to the rosemary aroma confirmed higher concentrations of 1,8-cineole, the oil’s compound specifically linked to memory improvement. The researchers concluded that the aroma of rosemary essential oil can enhance cognitive functioning in healthy individuals and may have implications for treating people with memory impairment. The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, in Harrogate.