Promoting Memory with Rosemary

There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance: pray, love, remember…” – Hamlet (Act IV, Scene 5)

Legend has it that in Ancient Greece students would put rosemary sprigs in their hair for good luck and for memory while studying for, and taking tests.  This tradition was effective because when Rosemary is inhaled, it increases memory by 75%.

There are compounds in Rosemary that improve memory, such as 1,8-cineole found in Rosemary Oil. Studies from Northumbria University (UK) found that the amount of 1,8-cineole in the blood is linked with brain performance. (Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology). Rosemary acts in the same way as dementia-treatment drugs, which cause increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.  When a drug or herb is inhaled, it is bypassing the liver, which makes it the best way to absorb the neurotransmitter directly into the brain without being broken down by an enzyme.

Researchers from Northumbria University also exposed 20 people to different levels of rosemary oil aroma, and then took samples of their blood to test how much 1,8-cineole each person absorbed. Participants then took accuracy, mood and speed exams to see if the rosemary oil had any effects.

They found that the more 1,8-cineole in the bloodstream of the person, the better the person’s performance on both the speed and accuracy tests.

Findings indicate that the olfactory properties of these essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood. – Int J Neurosci

In summary, Rosemary, when inhaled (best if via diffused oil) can greatly increase memory, improve cognitive speed and accuracy as well as mood.

*When it comes to investing any herb, drug, or food, always take into account that all things must be consumed in moderation.*

Author: Rebekah A. Dobbs


  1. BBC NEWS; “What does rosemary do to your brain?” 15 July, 2015
  2. Huffington Post “Rosemary Brain Benefit: Study Shows link Between Herb Chemical and Brain Power” –  Amanda L. Chan 27 February, 2012
  3. Int J Neuroschi “Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults” – Moss M., Cook J., Wesnes K., Duckett P. Jan 2003