It is common knowledge that as we age, we tend to get a bit more forgetful. While all of us can fall victim to faulty memory issues (blanking on the name of the great new restaurant you tried last week, forgetting where you set down the keys), it becomes a more regular occurrence the older one gets. Our “future memory,” the function that helps us to remember to take our medication or go to the hair appointment we have scheduled next week, is the type of memory most affected within the aging brain. With Alzheimer’s disease on the rapid rise, seniors are more concerned than ever before with taking preventative steps to protect their cognitive function & memory.
Despite modern medicine’s frustrating inability as of yet to create a medication that is markedly successful at halting memory regression and preventing further memory loss down the road, studies into a long-established herbal remedy has yielded surprisingly promising results at improving memory: rosemary oil.
Rosemary has actually been linked to memory function for hundreds of years. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia even mentions it in her famous line, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Determined to test out every possible solution to the declining memory dilemma that has become a national crisis, scientists set up a study testing the effects of rosemary oil and lavender oil through a series of memory tests. 60 senior volunteers were told they were being brought in to “test out a new vitamin water drink,” being placed in a room that was either infused with rosemary oil, infused with lavender oil (an herbal remedy known to promote rest, relaxation, & sedation), or an unscented control room. They were then administered a series of tests designed to measure their prospective memory, with challenges that included having to remember where objects were hidden around the room after a lengthy period of time and solving complex word puzzles while simultaneously being given memory-related tasks, such as “When you come across a question about the Queen, remind me to call the garage.”
The results showed that the volunteers in the room with the rosemary infusion performed significantly better than those in the control room, proving to be 60-75% more likely to successfully perform memory challenges in comparison to the control group, while those that were in the room with the lavender performed significantly lower than those in the control room. It is hypothesized that rosemary is so effective on memory function because of compounds in it known as 1,8-cineole, which is thought to act on the brain in the same way as certain drugs licensed to treat dementia by increasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.
In addition to its proven positive effects on the memory, rosemary is also believed to alleviate pain, sooth migraines, aid in digestion, calm itchy scalp, and ease muscle aches. Are you interested in testing out rosemary on your own memory function? Give it a try- its as easy as placing three to four drops of rosemary on a tissue and allowing the scent to waft through the air. For a longer lasting aroma, you can add 10 drops of rosemary oil to two cups of boiled water, or diffuse it through one of the many aromatherapy kits currently on the market. Go get your herbal on!
Sources: BBC.com, UndergroundHealth.com