Essential oils have the potential to improve our physical and mental wellbeing, and there is growing scientific evidence that some may also be able to boost our cognitive function.
For example, studies have found that using rosemary oil for memory can enhance recollection and retention, thanks to its many aromatherapeutic benefits.
So, if it is true that rosemary oil benefits memory, how exactly does it work? And what have these studies found? Here we look at some of the research, along with how to use the oil to boost cognitive function and more.
Does smelling rosemary help memory?
Scientific research into using rosemary for memory enhancement has produced some very interesting and positive results. Here’s what researchers have gathered so far:
1. Consumption of rosemary
A study involving 28 older adults concluded that eating a low dose of dried rosemary powder was linked to a significantly improved speed of memory.
2. Smelling rosemary
Another study looked at how cognition can be affected by the smell of rosemary. People involved in the study performed serial subtraction and visual processing tasks whilst being exposed to the aroma of rosemary. It found that both speed and accuracy improved when exposed to higher amounts of the scent.
A different study involved over 50 students aged between 13 and 15 years old. When rosemary essential oil was sprayed in the room, researchers found that it improved their memory of numbers and images.
3. Drinking rosemary water
80 adults took part in a study that required them to drink 250 ml of mineral water or rosemary water. Compared to those who drank the mineral water, the adults who drank the rosemary water displayed a small improvement in memory.
Rosemary oil benefits for memory
So far, research has found that rosemary essential oil could help to improve memory. But how does that translate to your everyday life? Here are some of the benefits rosemary oil can offer.
- Better memory and cognitive function: As the studies mentioned above demonstrate, inhaling, consuming and applying rosemary oil had a positive effect on the participants that interacted with it, compared to those that did not.
- Lowers anxiety and stress: Diffusing rosemary oil can create a calm, relaxing atmosphere that can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Cognitive function can be impaired by stress and anxiety, so by giving yourself more control over the latter, you can also boost the former.
- May prove helpful for people with Alzheimer’s: One study found that the aromatherapeutic benefits of rosemary oil was able to help improve the memory of people with Alzheimer’s. it concluded that it could have some potential for improving cognitive function.
- Protection against free radicals and inflammation: The neuroprotective properties of rosemary oil can offer some protection against the damage caused by inflammation and free radicals. In the long term, this could improve memory retention and lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Whether you want to improve your cognitive function or want to try a natural remedy for someone with Alzheimer’s, rosemary oil could prove to be very effective, depending on what you want to achieve.
How to use rosemary to improve memory
If you want to know how to use rosemary oil for memory, try some of the methods below:
- Improve cognitive function with topical application: A simple way to test the memory boosting properties of rosemary oil is to mix a few drops with your preferred carrier oil and rub it into your chest, neck or temples. Alternatively you could try our pre mixed rosemary oil for hair and skin.
- Inhale rosemary oil to boost your memory: As the studies we cited above suggest, inhaling the scent of rosemary oil could help to improve your memory. You can try this by adding the oil to a diffuser, so it fills the room with its aroma. Alternatively, make your own candle using rosemary oil, or buy ready made candles that can disperse the scent around your home.
- The aromatherapeutic benefits of rosemary oil can be great for memory recollection: Another great method to try is to add some rosemary essential oil to a warm bath, so you can inhale the cognitive benefits whilst they also soak into your skin. Simply dilute a few drops with a carrier oil and add to the water before getting in.
- Massaging rosemary oil into the skin can enhance cognitive function: Massaging rosemary oil may also be able to help you improve memory recall. It works in the same way as topical application by mixing it with a carrier oil, with the main difference being it is applied slowly and more deeply into the skin.
- Alternative methods of increasing memory recall: You can make a homemade rosemary oil essential oil air freshener that you spritz into the air, which can offer more clarity and mental focus. Or, even add to a homemade cleaning product so the scent is present around your home.
What are the side effects of using rosemary oil for memory?
There are no recorded side effects for using rosemary oil for memory, so whether you apply it topically or via inhalation, it should not cause any cognitive issues.
However, it is important to know that rosemary oil contains a compound called camphor. This has been known to trigger seizures in some people, so if you have a history of seizures it is probably best to look for an alternative.
If you have asthma or another respiratory condition, avoid inhaling rosemary oil in high concentrations, as it could cause breathing problems for some people.
There are also some small general risks associated with using rosemary oil that you should take into consideration. People with sensitive skin may experience irritation or an allergic reaction even if the oil has been properly diluted.
This is true of all essential oils due to their high concentration levels, which is why it is always advisable to take a patch test before using it for the first time.
Research has uncovered some very positive results in relation to using rosemary oil for memory retention. Inhaling the oil topically or via inhalation offers two great ways to enjoy its health properties, helping to boost your cognitive function, whilst also lowering stress and anxiety levels. Rosemary oil is a great choice for most people who are looking for a natural way to enhance their memory, bringing with it a host of aromatherapeutic benefits. However, if you have a history of seizures or respiratory issues, you may want to use an alternative, given the potential risks involved.