alive logo

A Little Whiff Will Do Ya: Rosemary Oil May Help Boost Brain Power


A Little Whiff Will Do Ya: Rosemary Oil May Help Boost Brain Power

Rosemary essential oil aroma may improve cognitive performance. The brain-boosting effects are said to be from 1,8-cineole, a main chemical in rosemary oil.

If you’re feeling mentally slow and sluggish today, you might get a boost with a whiff of rosemary essential oil, according to new research. The brain-boosting effects are said to be connected to one of the main chemicals in rosemary oil, 1,8-cineole.

While we already know about rosemary’s notable cancer-opposing properties and its status as a good source of free radical-fighting vitamin A, immune-boosting vitamin C, and bone-building calcium, scientists are now demonstrating rosemary’s effects on cognitive abilities.

In this latest study, researchers at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom exposed 20 people to rosemary oil aroma for 4, 6, 8, or 10 minutes. Subjects then completed a number of cognitive tests to rate speed and accuracy and also performed mood assessments. After each exposure, blood samples were also taken to determine plasma levels of 1,8-cineole.

Speed and accuracy improved

The blood tests were used to correlate levels of 1,8-cineole to the scores on the cognitive and mood tests. The results showed that higher levels of the chemical in the blood corresponded to improved performance in both speed and accuracy.

According to Mark Ross, PhD, the first author of the study which was published in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, “The significant correlations reported in the study suggest that the presence of 1,8-cineole in the blood can potentially enhance some aspects of cognition—in this study, mental arithmetic.”

Mood was slightly improved

A positive effect on mood was also found, although it wasn’t as significant. The researchers speculated there might be some relationship between positive mood and improved cognitive performance.

The researchers admitted the research is preliminary and more needs to be learned, but with the “ever-increasing interest in the potential for herbal extracts to be used to try and prevent or slow age-related cognitive decline, this avenue of research is going to continue,” said Moss.

While you’re waiting

While you wait on more evidence, why not try some rosemary essential oil



Your winter wellness game plan

Your winter wellness game plan

Stay healthful when the weather outside is frightful

Joshua Duvauchelle

Joshua Duvauchelle