Ophelia might have been crazy but she certainly knew her herbs when she said, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”

In a self-funded study published on February 24, 2012 in the journal Therapeautic Advances in Psychopharmacology, co-authors Mark Moss, Ph.D., and Lorraine Oliver, M.Sc., of Northumbria University in the U.K., confirmed that rosemary oil, an essence typically made of two parts eucalyptol for every three parts rosemary, has been discovered to increase performance and concentration of office workers.

According to moss and Oliver, “Compounds absorbed from rosemary aroma affect cognition and subjective state independently through different neuro-chemical pathways.”

Going on past research which showed that the eucalyptol in the oil possesses “anti-AChE activity,” which is thought to improve cognition in cases of dementia, Moss and Oliver devised an experiment to test this out. In an office, twelve healthy women were randomly assigned to sit in a cubicle filled with the aroma of rosemary for either four, six, eight, or ten minutes. The participants were then given a set of cognitive tests developed by Northumbria’s Brain Performance and Nutrition Research Center.

Bond-Lader visual scales, formulated specifically for psychopharmacological research and used in the assessment of natural health interventions, were used to assess the mood of the participants. To assure integrity, all participants were blind to the nature of the study.

Lastly, each volunteer gave one five-milliliter sample of blood for analysis using a thermo gas chromatograph which showed how much rosemary oil entered their system.

“The results reported here support the proposal that [eucalyptol] would be detectable in the blood serum of healthy human volunteers following inhalation of the aroma of rosemary essential oil,” Moss and Oliver write, showing that when inhaled through the nose, compounds within the scent travel into the bloodstream and throughout the body.

This absorption showed mental and behavioral benefits. The results indicated that the oil boosted the cognitive performance and mood in the participants, and the more time spent within rosemary’s aroma, the stronger the effect.

Since this is the first study to display the correlation between blood levels of a scent’s compounds and increased cognitive performance, one wonders what’s next? Bergamot for balance?

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