Our brain and smelling Rosemary

Rosemary has been linked to memory for hundreds of years

The team at Northumbria University tested the effects of not only rosemary oil but also lavender oil. They then tested these volunteers in a room infused with either rosemary essential oil, lavender essential oil or no aroma.

The volunteers in the room with the rosemary infusion did statistically significantly better than those in the control room but lavender caused a significant decrease in performance.


Lavender is traditionally associated with sleep and sedation. Was the lavender sending our volunteers to sleep and decreasing their performance?

It turns out that there are compounds in rosemary oil that may be responsible for changes in memory performance. One of them is called 1,8-cineole – as well as smelling wonderful (if you like that sort of thing) it may act in the same way as the drugs licensed to treat dementia, causing an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine.


For a complete description of the experiment and rosemary, go to