Monday, June 16, 2008

Rosemary is For Remembrance

"There's rosemary; that's for remembrance.

Pray, love, remember."
~Shakespeare, Hamlet

Paul's mom sent us a nice article about aromatherapy that she clipped from Prevention Magazine. In it was reported that a study with college students at the University of Northumbria showed a significant increase in memory and feelings of alertness for those who used rosemary essential oil as compared to a control group. Oddly, the Prevention Magazine article did not report that the study also showed that rosemary slowed memory recall for the same test subjects. In other words, the students outperformed other students in two different kinds of memory tests (and felt more awake doing it) but took a little longer to come up with the results. Hmmm. Could it be that if we stay awake and slow down our brains function better?

I took a quick look around the internet to see if I could find more about this. According to research done by the Burnham Institute for Medical Research there are ingredients in the rosemary herb that protect the brain from the injurious effects of free radical production. Free radicals are thought to contribute to a wide variety of neurological conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s in addition to what is considered "normal" age-related memory loss. You can read more about free radicals in another blog I wrote here. In that post I was talking about antioxidants such as those found in blueberries that have a useful effect in counteracting free radical reproduction in the human body. It turns out that the carnosol and carnosic acid found in rosemary are powerful antioxidants. In addition to having a significant effect on memory loss they have been shown to have a protective effect against cancer.

Scientists are hard at work trying to use these findings to create powerful drugs which could be used for the same purpose. Meanwhile it couldn't hurt to add a little rosemary into your life. I like it in my garden--I can't seem to resist picking a little bit and rubbing the leaves between my fingers whenever I can. The smell is irresistible. I use it in my Mama Love for Focussed Attention perfume.

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