The Surprising Ways Rosemary Can Help Your Brain

Level up your studying regimen.

Got a big test coming up? Sniffing some common garnish may be all you need to lift that grade point average.

Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK published a study on May 4 that found inhaling rosemary oil helps children remember things. For the study, the scientists took 40 students between the ages of 10 to 11 and assigned them randomly to two classrooms — one of which had been suffused with rosemary oil and one of which had no scent.

The scientists sat across a table from the children and presented them with a variety of memory games. Children tested in the rosemary-aroma room scored performed significantly better than the non-scented room, especially in a test that involved recalling words.

The exact reasons for the effect are still unknown, but Dr. Mark Moss — one of the study’s lead researchers — hypothesized the aromas could affect electrical activity in the brain or that pharmacologically active compounds can be absorbed when adults are exposed to rosemary.

“We do know that poor working memory is related to poor academic performance and these findings offers a possible cost effective and simple intervention to improve academic performance in children,” says Moss. “The time is ripe for large-scale trials of aroma application in education settings.”

Could smelling a shrub really improve test scores? Moss’ evidence suggests the likelihood is high enough to keep exploring! Perhaps classrooms of the future will include more aromatherapy and less cramming for exams.

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