Rosemary’s delightful fragrance combined with its pungent taste has convinced many avid cooks to use it in various dishes, including soups and sauces. It is historically known to improve memory by increasing blood flow to the brain and head, which by extension also helps improve concentration. Rosemary also has the ability to improve digestion and seemingly reduce the severity of asthma attacks. In ancient Greece, it had such a formidable reputation to improve memory that students would often put rosemary sprigs in their hair when studying for exams.
Rosemary basically grows on small evergreen shrubs which are part of the Labiatae family, also related to mint. It may come from the Mediterranean but it’s now widely developed in Europe and America’s milder climates.
There are many health benefits associated to this wonderful herb which has been studied by various researchers around the world. Based on some of the accumulated results, rosemary displayed a few other noteworthy qualities besides the ones already mentioned above.
Two of its components, caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substances that help diminish inflammation, an important factor in asthma, liver disease or heart disease.
The Cancer Research Institute of Slovakia has come to the conclusion that rosemary helps protect DNA from free radical deteriorations, hence a possible aid in the fight against cancer.
Italian researchers noticed that rosemary has a protective effect on protein HSP70. Since protein HSP70 plays an active role in preventing any harm done to the skin, scientists believe that rosemary may be a contributing factor in reducing age-related damages such as wrinkles.
French scientists from the National Institute of Agronomic Research are on record saying that rosemary assists detoxifying enzymes, such as cytochrome P450, glutathione transferase and quinone reductase, in getting rid of toxins found inside the liver.
So what has research shown about rosemary’s effects on the brain?
United Kingdom researchers from Northumbria University discovered that when an amount of 1.8-cineole, a prime chemical found in rosemary oil, makes its way into the bloodstream, the end result leads to improved brain performance.
During the experiment, scientists exposed 20 individuals to various levels of the oil’s aroma and then collected blood samples to confirm how much of the 1.8-cineole each member actually took in. The individuals were then asked to take speed, accuracy and mood tests in order to confirm if rosemary oil showed any positive effects.
It turns out that the more the 1.8-cineole was found in a person’s blood, accuracy and speed performances were also increased. Only mild effects were noticeable in regards to changes in moods.
Dr. Mark Moss was quoted saying that the aroma acts like a medicinal drug. These tests have definitely opened the eyes of many about rosemary’s potential effects on the brain, although some say the results should only be considered for now as preliminary ones.
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