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March 13, 2012
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) has been known for many centuries as a miraculous herbal remedy for many health problems and ailments. It is a traditional medicinal plant that has been used to produce essential oil, one of the basic multipurpose natural extracts. Rosemary essential oil is considered a great remedy for headaches, depression, respiratory problems, hair loss, acne, eczema, skin problems, and many other health conditions, but the mechanisms and effects of this remedy are actually not very well studied yet. Thus, the findings of a new study regarding the property of rosemary oil to boost our brain performance came out as an interesting concept for all modern scientific circles.
These unique health benefits of rosemary and rosemary oil were known before. However, the mechanisms of how this herbal remedy impacts human brain and mental abilities remained unclear. A group of scientists at the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University, UK, led by Lorraine Oliver and Mark Moss, carried out a series of experiments and found out the main chemical compound in rosemary oil that can be responsible for brain performance boosting powers. That is 1,8-cineole (1,3,3-trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane).
20 volunteers were involved in the experiment, and all of those were exposed to various doses of rosemary oil. The scientists used blood samples of the participants to find out what levels of 1,8-cineole were absorbed by every each volunteer. Then, the volunteers went through a series of extended tests for mood and cognitive abilities, including accuracy tests, speed tests, mood assessments, and so on. After comparing test results with the levels of 1,8-cineole, the scientists found out that high concentrations of the mentioned compound were linked to a better cognitive performance of the individuals. A participant with higher levels of 1,8-cineole demonstrated better results in accuracy and speed tests.
However, the relationship between 1,8-cineole and improved mood was not confirmed by the test results. The same can be said about the correlation between this chemical compound and attention or alertness. The experts say that 1,8-cineole a volatile compound that can be found in many medicinal plants like eucalyptus, sage, wormwood, etc. It can very easily enter our blood stream as we inhale the vapors of the related essential oil, and have positive effects on our cognitive and brain performance. The findings of the study have been recently reported in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.