Do you want to sharpen your memory and improve your thinking? If you’re anything near as forgetful as most of us, your answer is probably an emphatic “Of course!”
But you’re also probably wondering what expensive drug, time-consuming exercise, or voodoo ritual it might take. Well, I’ve got some good news for you. This remedy is anything but expensive or crazy. In fact, chances are you’ve got it in your spice rack right now.
The miracle drug in question is, in fact, the same herb that you use to season your potatoes. It’s true, rosemary can be used to boost your memory.
Rosemary takes its name from the Latin word ros maris, meaning “dew of the sea,” likely because it grows mostly along shorelines. Its uses are widespread, and date all the way back to ancient Egypt. But it’s only recently that scientists have been able to truly test its medicinal properties.
How This Scent Supercharges Brain Waves
One study, which was published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, assessed the olfactory impact of lavender and rosemary.1 Researchers took 104 healthy individuals and had them complete a computerized assessment battery after being exposed to the odor of lavender or rosemary. Test participants were not told as to what the testing was for as to prevent any expectancy effects.
In the end, researchers concluded that rosemary can produce a “significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors.” They also found that rosemary caused a heightened sense of alertness in participants.
Another study, also published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, found similarly promising results.2 After three minutes of aromatherapy, test subjects who had sniffed rosemary were more alert and had lower anxiety scores. Most surprisingly, the rosemary-sniffing subjects actually improved on their math computation.
Rosemary acts as a stimulant. It has been shown to increase blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate upon inhalation.3 This can, in turn, affect brain wave activity and autonomic nervous system responses, giving your body the extra boost it needs to put the brain into overdrive.
Shakespeare’s Memory Elixir
Though rosemary as an herb to boost our cognition may sound new to most of us, it’s actually a remedy with a long history. A number of important civilizations across the globe and throughout time have believed that it could enhance memory. Many thousands of years after Egyptians laid sprigs on coffins or tombstones, Shakespeare’s Ophelia offered Hamlet “Rosemary, for remembrance.”4
Around the same period, Sir Thomas More, a noted Renaissance philosopher and humanist, who has since been honored as a Saint by the Roman Catholic church, wrote, “As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance.”5
Furthermore, as supported by recent research, rosemary has long been believed to improve mood and dispel negativity, as well as improve appearances. During the middle ages, a sprig of the herb was tucked under pillows to ward off evil spirits. When the Queen of Hungary drank an herbal rosemary-based concoction at the age of 70, she reportedly became so youthful looking that she was proposed to by a twenty-year-old archduke.
Benefits Are Temporary, So Smell This Daily
The powers of rosemary have been recognized throughout history. We’re just finally using science to prove it. So beyond adding it to your potatoes, you might try getting ahold of rosemary oil. It’s a cheap and easy way to stay on top of your memory. Putting a few drops into a cloth or handkerchief could keep you feeling mentally fresh and alert all day!