You would probably agree that rosemary has a pleasant, fragrant smell. Brush by a plant in the garden and a distinct aroma will waft through the air. This herb is used everywhere to flavor meals — chicken, lamb, pork, salmon and tuna dishes have all benefitted from the aromatic addition of a little rosemary. You’ll find it in soups and sauces as well. But did you know that this healing food could improve your memory?
In one clinical trial, researchers in the U.K set out to assess the olfactory impact of the essential oils of lavender (“Lavandula angustifolia”) and rosemary (“Rosmarinus officinalis”) on cognitive performance and mood in healthy volunteers. One hundred and forty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of three independent groups, and subsequently performed cognitive tests in a cubicle containing either one of the two odors or no odor (control). Mood questionnaires were completed prior to exposure to the odor, and after completion of the cognitive tests.
The research team found that, surprisingly, lavender produced a significant drop in performance of working memory and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention-based tasks compared to controls. In contrast, however, rosemary produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory. When it came to mood, comparisons of the change in ratings after the cognitive tests revealed that both the control and lavender groups were significantly less alert than the rosemary
group. The researchers concluded that the olfactory properties of rosemary oil in particular could produce positive effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood.
In another study performed at the University of Georgia, scientists set out to study the medicinal properties of five herbs: thyme; rosemary; sage; spearmint; and peppermint. In particular, they wanted to know if these herbs could exert a protective, anti-tumor effect against colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and the fourth most common form of cancer worldwide.
The research team found that all the herbs helped to inhibit colon cancer cell growth. Interestingly, they found that some mixtures of different herbal extracts had unique combination effects on cancer cell growth. For example, the inhibitory effects of peppermint and sage combinations were significantly higher than rosemary and sage combinations. Although, the researchers also noted that peppermint extracts showed lower inhibition than rosemary extracts.
They concluded that extracts from thyme, rosemary, sage, spearmint and peppermint could significantly inhibit the growth of human colon cancer cells.
So there you go — use rosemary to boost your memory, as an alternative remedy to help prevent cancer and to brighten your day.