Rosemary for remembrance – at least that’s what the Victorian language of flowers says.
Now a small study has added weight to that folklore by showing that chemicals in the essential oils of rosemary and spearmint improve learning and memory.
Researchers at the University of St Louis found that the higher dose of an antioxidant extract of compounds derived from rosemary was the most powerful in improving memory and learning in animals across three tested behaviours.
A lower dose of rosemary extract improved memory in two of the behavioural tests, as did a compound made from spearmint extract.
Further, there were signs of reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.
The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2013, a meeting hosted by the Society for Neuroscience and the research team concludes “Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline.”
Good Results in Humans Too
The research was supported by the VA Medical Center in St. Louis, MO, and was also supported by Kemin Industries, which makes specialty ingredients for vitamin and dietary supplements.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the findings are suspect. Nor does it mean that you need to use specially concocted extracts to get results.
Earlier this year scientists in the UK gave a group of 66 people memory tests in either a rosemary-scented room or another room with no scent.