Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an aromatic plant whose effect on memory was already noticed in ancient Greek and Rome where it was used as a symbol of fidelity and remembrance at weddings and funerals. In addition, the plant was burned in schools and universities to inspire students and prevent “brain weakness”. Presently it is being studied as potential Alzheimer’s disease treatment and in dementia prevention and is used as a method of relieving test anxiety symptoms.



Rosemary has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects due to the presence of monoterpenes, diterpenes and triterpenes, further in its composition we find phenolic compounds such as rosmarinic acid which has antioxidant as well as antimicrobial properties. Monoterpene cineole and cyclic terpene alpha-pinene are able to alter the mood and show antidepressant properties together with diterpene carnosol. Due to the high content of polyphenols, which are known tumor-inhibitors, research is being conducted on rosemary as possible treatment for breast cancer, colon cancer and melanoma. Terpenes such as carnosol, carnosic acid and rosmanol have analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory properties and are used to relieve rheumatic pain.


How does rosemary affect memory?

Rosemary inhibits acetylcholinesterase in the brain and to this mechanism the positive effect on memory is attributed. Because of this inhibitory activity rosemary is being researched as possible treatmed for Alzheimer’s disease. Depression, anxiety and lack of sleep are factors which have a negative effect on memory, rosemary is also helpful in this regard. Rosemary exhibits sedative, antidepressant, and anxiolytic effects by activating GABA receptors. To confirm this positive effect on memory a study was conducted on students. Some students consumed 500 mg rosemary capsules twice a day for a month, while others had a placebo capsule. The results of this study proved that consuming rosemary orally on a daily basis improves memory, sleep quality and reducess depression and anxiety.


Does aromatherapy with rosemary reduce test anxiety?

Test anxiety is a state of great worry and fear before, during or after an exam and it can contribute to bad test results. Such anxiety is increased when further education depends on the test results as is the case with university entry exams. Test anxiety pervents the normal thought process and the recollection of learned data and is often followed by physical symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, headaches and rapid heartbeats. Researchers gave rosemary essential oil infused bags to students during exams to investigate how inhaling rosemary affects test anxiety. The students stated that rosemary increased their focus and concentration during the exam. Inhalers and essential oil infused bags are inexpensive and widely available so they present a simple and safe solution in combating test anxiety. Today we can also find essential oil diffuser bracelets which are more practical for everyday use.


Rosemary is a plant and spice well-known for its diverse health benefits so it is not surprising that it is being researched as potential treatment for various cancers, depression, anxiety and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have found that the plant exhibits better health benefits than individual medicinal substances to whom the positive effects have been attributed to. The reason for this is that all these medicinal substances work together and complement each other leading to the positive properties of rosemary.

Translated by Patricia Štriga



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Photography source

Photo by Manuela Böhm on Unsplash