#36alive 125: Smell Rosemary To Improve Memory

It has long been theorised that the rosemary herb can improve memory which originally came from its ability to preserve meat. Before refrigerators were invented, ancient peoples used to preserve their meat by wrapping it in crushed rosemary, with its ability to do so leading people to believe that it would also preserve memory. In fact Greek students used to wear a rosemary garland around their necks to assist with memory recall.

These claims have now been backed up by a recent study carried out at Northumbria University where it was found that the mere aroma of rosemary oil improved results in memory tests between 5%-7%.

Dr Moss from Northumbria University explains “It could be that aromas affect electrical activity in the brain or that pharmacologically active compounds can be absorbed when adults are exposed”.

While this was a small scale trial, plans are afoot for a larger scale investigation; we will be keeping a close eye on this to see what the findings are.

With the end of the school / college / university year approaching this could come in particularly useful when revising, or during exams. So either stick a little rosemary oil rose4on your clothing, take some fresh rosemary in to an exam with you to smell, or go all out and wear a garland, getting both the benefit of a greater memory whilst also looking ‘hella fleek’.

Do be careful about carrying rosemary around with you though as it is also seen as a symbol of love. During the middle ages, if a young person tapped another with a rosemary twig containing an open blossom, the couple would supposedly fall in love. Which may be where the notion of tapping someone up in today’s language came from, for example “would you tap that?”, “I tapped last night”.

Also, men beware; in the 16th century planting rosemary around the house signified that the women ruled, with men often ripping these plants out to show their dominance. I’m sure you’ll agree that there isn’t a more dominant sight than a man ripping out a rosemary plant in the garden.

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