Useful and attractive: Research has found the essential oil from rosemary helps long-term memory and alertness
Why a whiff of rosemary DOES help you remember: Sniffing the herb can increase memory by 75%
• The Tudors believed rosemary had powers to enhance memory
• In Hamlet, Ophelia says ‘There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance’
• Researchers have found the oil helps alertness and arithmetic
Shakespeare was right in saying rosemary can improve your memory.
Researchers have found for the first time that essential oil from the herb when sniffed in advance enables people to remember to do things.
It could help patients take their medication on time, it is claimed, or even help the forgetful to post a birthday card.
In a series of tests rosemary essential oil from the herb increased the chances of remembering to do things in the future, by 60-75 per cent compared with people who had not been exposed to the oil.
Other studies have shown the oil increases alertness and enhances long-term memory.
Rosemary has been long been linked to memory, with the most famous literary reference found in Hamlet when Ophelia declares: ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance: pray, love, remember.’ It is used in modern-day herbal medicine as a mild painkiller and for migraines and digestive problems.
A team of psychologists at Northumbria University, Newcastle, tested the effects of essential oils from rosemary.
Dr Mark Moss, who will present the findings today at the British Psychology Society conference in Harrogate, said the benefit of aromas was becoming clear through scientific investigation.
He said ‘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 involves the ability to remember events that will occur in the future and to remember to complete tasks at particular times. This is critical for everyday functioning, for example when someone needs to remember to post a birthday card or to take medication at a particular time.’
Rosemary essential oil was diffused in to a testing room by placing four drops on an aroma stream fan diffuser and switching this on five minutes before people entered the room.
Altogether 66 people took part in the study and were randomly allocated to either the rosemary-scented room or another room with no scent.
In each room participants completed a test designed to assess their prospective memory functions.