Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Could rosemary scent boost brain performance?

Date:
February 24, 2012
Source:
SAGE Publications
Summary:
Hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties, we still have a lot to learn about the effects of rosemary. Now researchers have shown for the first time that blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance.

Rosemary. Hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties, we still have a lot to learn about the effects of rosemary. Now researchers have shown for the first time that blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance.
Credit: Igor Dutina / Fotolia

Hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties, we still have a lot to learn about the effects of rosemary. Now researchers writing in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE, have shown for the first time that blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance.

Related Articles


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is one of many traditional medicinal plants that yield essential oils. But exactly how such plants affect human behaviour is still unclear. Mark Moss and Lorraine Oliver, working at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University, UK designed an experiment to investigate the pharmacology of 1,8-cineole (1,3,3-trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane), one of rosemary's main chemical components.

The investigators tested cognitive performance and mood in a cohort of 20 subjects, who were exposed to varying levels of the rosemary aroma. Using blood samples to detect the amount of 1,8-cineole participants had absorbed, the researchers applied speed and accuracy tests, and mood assessments, to judge the rosemary oil's affects.

Results indicate for the first time in human subjects that concentration of 1,8-cineole in the blood is related to an individual's cognitive performance -- with higher concentrations resulting in improved performance. Both speed and accuracy were improved, suggesting that the relationship is not describing a speed-accuracy trade off. Meanwhile, although less pronounced, the chemical also had an effect on mood. However, this was a negative correlation between changes in contentment levels and blood levels of 1,8-cineole, which is particularly interesting because it suggests that compounds given off by the rosemary essential oil affect subjective state and cognitive performance through different neurochemical pathways. The oil did not appear to improve attention or alertness, however.

Terpenes like 1,8-cineole can enter the blood stream via the nasal or lung mucosa. As small, fat-soluble organic molecules, terpenes can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Volatile 1,8-cineole is found in many aromatic plants, including eucalyptus, bay, wormwood and sage in addition to rosemary, and has already been the subject of a number of studies, including research that suggests it inhibits acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes, important in brain and central nervous system neurochemistry: rosemary components may prevent the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

"Only contentedness possessed a significant relationship with 1,8-cineole levels, and interestingly to some of the cognitive performance outcomes, leading to the intriguing proposal that positive mood can improve performance whereas aroused mood cannot," said Moss.

Typically comprising 35-45% by volume of rosemary essential oil, 1,8-cineole may possess direct pharmacological properties. However, it is also possible that detected blood levels simply serve as a marker for relative levels of other active compounds present in rosemary oil, such as rosmarinic acid and ursolic acid, which are present at much lower concentrations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SAGE Publications. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Moss, L. Oliver. Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/2045125312436573

Cite This Page:

SAGE Publications. "Could rosemary scent boost brain performance?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224194313.htm>.
SAGE Publications. (2012, February 24). Could rosemary scent boost brain performance?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224194313.htm
SAGE Publications. "Could rosemary scent boost brain performance?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120224194313.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins