June 19, 2013

Smelling Essential Oil of Rosemary to Improve Memory?

A study reported on June 3 in the World Health Net Forum for Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine found that smelling the essential oil from the herb rosemary improved memory by 75%.

I don’t have rosemary in the house – I don’t cook, and feel triumphant when I get the microwave to work – but trying this cheap therapy might be worth a shot.

Here’s what happened: psychologists at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, randomly sent 66 people into two rooms -- one regular, the other scented with rosemary. To create that fragrance, scientists put four drops of the essential rosemary oil on an aroma stream fan diffuser for several minutes before the study subjects entered the room.

The memory tests weren’t exactly rigorous. Volunteers were asked to find objects that had been concealed earlier while they watched, and to pass objects to study leaders at particular times. The subjects were instructed to complete the tasks without prompting; if they failed to complete the tasks, researchers prompted them.

The Role of 1,8-Cineole
All volunteers gave blood samples. Researchers were eager to test for levels of a compound in rosemary’s essential oil called 1,8-cineole, which has been linked to memory in previous biochemical studies.

Results showed that volunteers in the scented room performed better, and that levels of 1,8-cineole in their blood were higher than in the control group. Those findings suggested a link between the presence of that 1,8-cineole compound in the blood and improved memory function.

Dr. Mark Moss presented the study results at the British Psychology Society conference, saying:
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.
Enter the Eager Neophiliac
Readers of this blog may have seen me label myself a hopeless "neophiliac," ready to experiment with the latest thing. As it is, I’ve racked up an impressive list of techniques and procedures I’ve already tried (mostly for pain relief), including reiki, acupuncture, hypnosis, brain wave music therapy, chiropractic, patches, massage, and injections. I even considered medical marijuana.

I’ve also said that it’s cognitive deterioration – not my prostate cancer or my Parkinson’s – that I fear most. So . . . what the heck? Why not try sniffing rosemary’s essential oils?

Watch this space.

No comments: