Researchers at the UK’s University of Northumbria recently conducted a study in which participants performed cognitive tests before and after being exposed to the scent of rosemary oil. Blood work was used to determine how much eucalyptol (rosemary’s primary chemical component) was present in each participant’s blood stream, and higher levels turned out to accompany higher test scores across the board.
As Dr. Alan Hirsch, of Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, said, “This opens up the doorway for us to explore other odors and how they affect people.”
Although the researchers assert that rosemary improved their participants’ mental speed and accuracy, they can’t explain why. Dr. Christy C. Tangney of Rush University remains skeptical, elaborating to WebMD, “This is an intriguing concept, but very preliminary. There is something here. I don’t know that I could conclude that it is the aroma of the rosemary that is associated with improvements, though.”
While the powers of rosemary still remain shrouded in mystery, can we at least agree that Simon and Garfunkel were onto something?
Image: Rosemary, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Anja Jonsson’s photostream.